The declaration of a state of emergency by the Thai government is effectively an admission that they can no longer control the capital through the rule of law or the normal political processes.

The Thai government has been facing increasing protests from, among others, supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in 2006. They are demanding elections for a new government.

The protests have become increasingly tense and dramatic — opposition supporters wear red shirts and have been pouring their blood on government buildings — and are disrupting the economy. Protesters have occupied the Bangkok shopping district and tourists have been put off by the political instability. The UAE has warned its citizens not to travel to Thailand.

The political instability in Thailand cannot be allowed to continue if a slide into violence is to be prevented — the emergency gives the army widespread powers to suspend some civil liberties, but the protesters are threatening to defy it. A clash is looming.

The emergency, a severe erosion of democracy, must be ended and free and fair elections called to set up a credible government that can end the crisis and lead Thailand back to political stability and economic development.