A state of emergency was declared for Bangkok, Thailand late Tuesday night as protesters continued their demonstrations in attempts to force the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of office. The emergency decree, lasting two months, allows the government to ban public gatherings, censor news reports, and enforce a curfew.
The decree comes as violence continues to plague the protests which have been occurring with increasing fervency since November. In that time, 9 people have been killed in the protests and more than 450 have been wounded. Grenade attacks last week killed one and wounded more than 60.
It is possible that the state of emergency is an attempt to restart government services crippled by the protests, such as the issuing of passports, as well as prevent further damage to the economy. Many Asian automakers worry that the instability will affect their sales. This week, Toyota announced it was rethinking investing $600 million to expand manufacturing efforts in the region due to the widespread antigovernment activity.
While protesters occupy considerable sections of the city and have shutdown major intersections, the Associated Press reports that, "life in the city continued as normal with tourist sites unaffected and no major deployment of extra security forces." In fact, protesters have taken it upon themselves to direct traffic in certain areas.
The protesters claim that Yingluck Shinawatra is a puppet of her brother Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006 and is currently in exile. The government has scheduled elections for February 2, but protesters have announced that they plan to boycott the proceedings.