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Thailand Declares Emergency Decree, as Protests Continue

Thailand on Tuesday announced a 60-day state of emergency in response to weeks of opposition protests in Bangkok aimed at overthrowing the government.

Officials say the decree will start Wednesday and covers the capital and surrounding areas. It potentially allows for government curfews, media censorship and bans on political gatherings.

It is unclear how the decree will affect opposition protests, which, although dwindling, were held in Bangkok on Tuesday for the eighth consecutive day.

The protests themselves have been mostly peaceful and the capital remains calm. But several recent attacks on demonstrators threatened to return Thailand to previous eras of political violence.

At least 28 people were wounded Sunday in two explosions near a protest camp. On Friday, one person was killed in another bomb attack in the capital.



The protesters are calling for an unelected people's council to replace the current government, which they say is corrupt and engages in nepotism.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra refuses to step down. She insists on holding early elections on February 2, though the opposition has said it will boycott the polls.

For weeks, she also instructed security forces to use restraint when dealing with the protests. It is unclear how Tuesday's decree will change the stance of the police and military.

Thailand has experienced regular political turmoil in recent years. The conflict pits Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Ms. Yingluck and her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr. Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, remains very influential in Thailand, even though he was convicted of corruption and lives in self-imposed exile.

Ms. Yingluck's Pheu Thai party is expected to easily win the February vote, thanks to the popularity of her brother and the social welfare programs he enacted.

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