9 Mar 2010

Thai government mulls security crackdown

5:35 pm on 9 March 2010

Thailand's Prime Minister is considering introducing strong new security measures that critics say amount to martial law, ahead of a massive political rally planned in Bangkok next weekend.

Abhisit Vejjajiva has postponed a visit to Australia and New Zealand because of the unrest in his country, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed.

He was due to arrive in New Zealand this Sunday.

A political march is being organised by supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra the same weekend.

Concerns about the protest have been building in recent days, with reports that a large cache of weapons has been stolen from an army base in the country's south.

Government spokesperson Panitan Wattanayagorn says he has intelligence that small, breakaway groups are issuing calls to arms to their supporters to come to the rally with weapons.

The Thai cabinet is expected to invoke the Internal Security Act for the period of the demonstration.

The act gives the military the power to control the protests and impose a curfew on Bangkok.