The Prime Minister of Thailand, Samak Sundaravej, has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok following the violent clashes in the Thai capital in the early hours of this morning.
This is obviously a dramatic development and it is something that the Thai leader has arguably wanted to do for some time because it would give him a legal mandate to clamp down firmly on the civil unrest. However, the key thing now is whether PM Samak has the support of the army or whether it is the army dictating to him what happens next because it is the Thai military who will be enforcing the emergency measures in Bangkok. I reported on Saturday about possible conflict between army commander Anupong Paojinda and the Thai prime minister so I can’t rule anything out; Samak could resign, he could carry on or there could be a military coup. All options are still on the table and today could be pivotal.
Tourists should try not to panic because most people in Thailand will be going about their normal daily business, although if you are in Bangkok you may notice an increased police and army presence. Some roads and buildings will be closed which could lead to even worse than normal traffic congestion. The state of emergency only applies to Bangkok, but the announcement could possibly lead to some regional anti-government protests elsewhere in Thailand.