The Thai government has announced that it will put the Internal Security Act in action from 11-23 March, in Bangkok and seven surrounding provinces, reports BBC News. This happens ahead of a planned march by the “red shirts.”
The reds are mainly supporters of the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed in a military coup in 2006.
Their plan is to rally until the current coalition government calls new elections.
The security laws puts the military in charge, with powers to impose curfews, restrict numbers at gatherings and man check points if necessary.
Fears and loathing
Last time the security laws was in action was during the meeting of the regional grouping Asean held in Thailand last October – after an earlier attempt to host Asean in April was stopped by red shirt protests.
The police failed to act against them as they took over the conference centre and the army took control to keep Mr Abhisit’s government in power.
This time, the red shirt movement, led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, has promised a huge but peaceful demonstration.
Smaller rallies, meetings and “political schools” are being held in various provinces before convoys of vehicles are expected to carry protesters to the capital by the weekend.
Thailand’s Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij has said the government would be “As patient as all governments need be”.
“There is a very small minority who is trying to cause instability through, frankly speaking, potentially violent acts,” he said to BBC News.
The Thai government also fully intended to “Use all means within its powers, within the laws of the country, to make sure that the property and safety of its citizens are protected.”