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Thai army takes to streets

September 02, 2008|From Reuters

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej declared a state of emergency in Bangkok today and gave the army control of public order after overnight clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters.

Later, the Election Commission recommended that the ruling People Power Party be disbanded, but a final court ruling could take months.

The commission said the party bought votes in December's election, dealing another blow to Samak's shaky coalition.

Under the emergency, public gatherings in the capital will be banned and media reports that "undermined public security" will be restricted.

However, leaders of the anti-government protest movement that has occupied the prime minister's official compound for a week said they would not move.

"There are not enough jails to put us all into," said Chamlong Srimuang, a leader of People's Alliance for Democracy.

At least one man was killed and 34 hurt in clashes between pro- and anti-government demonstrators near the Government House compound, the worst violence since the alliance launched its street campaign in May.

About 400 soldiers armed with truncheons and shields were sent to back up police struggling to contain the skirmishes.

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