26 Dec 2013

Thai security law extended

9:22 am on 26 December 2013

A special security law in Thailand has been extended for two more months to cope with opposition protests aimed at overthrowing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Photo: AFP (file)

Ms Yingluck's opponents are seeking to oust her government and install an unelected "people's council" in its place.

The ABC reports the Internal Security Act was widened a month ago to cover all of Bangkok and nearby areas.

It gives the police additional powers to block routes, ban gatherings, carry out searches and impose a curfew, although not all the measures have been used.

"The government needs this law to oversee peace and order because there are still protests," said Deputy Defence Minister General Yutthasak Sasiprapa after the cabinet agreed on an extension of 60 days.

Ms Yingluck has called a snap election for 2 February, but the main opposition Democrat Party - which has not won an elected majority in about two decades - has vowed to boycott the vote.

The ABC reports protesters have tried to stop candidates signing up for the election by blocking the entrances to the stadium serving as a registration venue.

Demonstrators tried to force their way into the building on Wednesday, triggering scuffles with police.

The ABC reports the conflict broadly pits the elite and middle class of Bangkok against rural and poor voters loyal to Ms Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as prime minister in a coup in 2006 and lives in exile.

Protesters say he controls his sister's government from Dubai.

The recent unrest is the worst since 2010.

Ms Yingluck on Wednesday proposed a "national reform council" made up of 499 representatives from various sectors to recommend constitutional amendments and economic and legal reforms, as well as anti-corruption measures.

"It is now time to develop a mechanism to push forward and mobilise national reform," she said in an address to the nation.