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Emergency rule.

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Thailand's prime minister declared a state of emergency in the capital yesterday after thousands of his opponents and supporters clashed in the worst street violence in more than a decade.One person was killed and dozens were injured, some of them from gunshot wounds, as a week of mass protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej spilled over into bloodshed and violence overnight.Samak had previously said he would not use force to push out the thousands of protesters who have occupied the main government complex since last week, but after the violence said it was now time for them to go."They must be moved from Government House," Samak told a nationally televised news conference. "I had no other choice but to declare a state of emergency in Bangkok in order to solve the problem for once and for all."Samak gave the army the power to break up any gathering of more than five people and to force people to leave any location, setting the stage for a showdown at the government compound, which includes Samak's offices.But a leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a movement that has been pushing for the premier to stand down after just seven months in office, urged his supporters to stay put."We will stay here. The government must decide whether to raid our camp or not, but by declaring a state of emergency, the government is putting PAD directly against the army," Pibhop Dhongchai told reporters inside the heavily barricaded complex.Thai police called in army reinforcements early yesterday to rein in the protests, setting nerves on edge in a country that has seen 18 military coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932."The situation's touch and go. Now with the emergency decree, we have moved to the next stage of brinkmanship," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a local political analyst.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Sep 3, 2008
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