Thailand declares state of emergency granting gov’t broad powers

Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha speaks Tuesday.
Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha speaks Tuesday.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said Tuesday his government has declared a state of emergency that grants it sweeping powers to enact curfews, limit travel and censor the media.

Addressing the nation and speaking through an ill-fitting mask, Gen. Prayuth said further details of the Emergency Decree would be announced later today. It would be in effect Thursday through the end of April.

He said no curfew or travel ban has been announced yet. For social media such as Twitter and Facebook, Prayuth also urged the public to “be mindful” using it.

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Prayuth asked people to quarantine themselves at home and not travel to their hometowns in other provinces.

The retired general who seized power in 2014 before becoming prime minister after last year’s election cited the 2005 Emergency Decree in announcing the move, but it was unclear as of Tuesday afternoon which of its sections would be used to address the current COVID-19 crisis.

The announcement comes amid swelling frustration with his government’s handling of the crisis, particularly online, where unprecedented expressions of anger have reached the highest levels of power.

Thailand on Tuesday reported new 106 COVID-19 cases and three deaths, bringing the total to four deaths since January and 827 cases, 766 of which remain hospitalized.


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