February 8, 2011 / 7:03 AM / 8 years ago

Thailand imposes tough security law ahead of protests

BANGKOK, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Thailand’s cabinet imposed on Tuesday a special security law in seven Bangkok districts, including its biggest shopping area and around government offices ahead of protests by nationalist “yellow shirt” activists.

The Internal Security Act was imposed in districts where the prime minister’s office and parliament are located, said government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.

“The cabinet approved the use of the law to maintain peace and safety in the area given the latest threats to step up protests,” he said, adding the law would be in place Feb. 9-23, effectively prohibiting political protests.

The “yellow shirts”, whose crippling rallies helped to bring Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to power, have turned against him in recent weeks, calling for him to take a tougher line against Cambodia over a disputed border area.

In 2008, they occupied state offices for three months and blockaded Bangkok’s main airport until a court expelled a government allied with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a step that paved the way for Abhisit to take power.

The yellow shirts have been on the streets for two weeks and say they plan to step up demonstrations in a bid to overthrow the government. They have threatened to occupy key sites in the capital on Friday, when a joint parliamentary session is scheduled to consider constitutional amendments.

Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Ambika Ahuja; Editing by Jason Szep

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