The Emergency Decree issued by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva gives security forces extended powers to clear thousands of anti-government demonstrators from the heart of Bangkok's luxury retail district. The protesters had been camped out there, at a cost of up to $430 million in losses to the country's economy. Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the decree was issued to "return normalcy" as well as "safety and security" to Bangkok. But it has so far failed to accomplish those ends.
The "Red Shirt" supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra -- who was ousted in a September 2006 coup and is now a fugitive from Thai justice -- remain defiant. Their leaders continue to up the ante, reinforcing their demands for Abhisit to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections. The Red Shirts say that Abhisit and his Democrat Party-led coalition government came to power illegally in December 2008, due only to the support of the Bangkok elite. Abhisit took office following months of street protests and the occupation of the Bangkok airport by the yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy movement.