Thailand declares state of emergency in Bangkok amid protests

(Bloomberg) – Thailand declared a state of emergency in the capital Bangkok after tens of thousands of anti-government protesters surrounded the prime minister’s office demanding greater democracy and less power for the monarchy.

The declaration, which bans gatherings of five or more people and allows for the arrest of anyone violating the rules, goes into immediate effect, according to a notification in the Royal Gazette.

Thousands of mostly student-led protesters marched to Government House, the office of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha on Wednesday in the latest in a series of anti-government demonstrations which began in early July.

The protesters are calling for the resignation of Prayuth, a former army chief who staged a coup in 2014, and a rewriting of the constitution drafted by a military-appointed panel that helped him stay on following elections last year. They also want curbs on the monarchy, such as prohibiting the king from endorsing any coups and revoking laws that criminalize insults against King Maha Vajiralongkorn and top members of the royal family.