Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul explained that the decree authorizes the military to bolster police forces to control anti-government protests as violence increased at rally sites last week.
The state of emergency is also intended, according to Surapong, to ensure that general elections are held, a plan opposed by demonstrators who are attempting to stop the elections.
Thai National Security Chief Lt. Gen. Paradon Patthanathubut told CNN that the state of emergency was in effect Wednesday and would be in place for sixty days. The decree authorizes the government to impose curfews, detain suspects without court order, censor media, and restrict movement within the capital.
Anti-government protests, led by the opposition Democrat Party, have been ongoing since November 2013. Protesters are calling for the removal of the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whom they accuse of acting on behalf of her brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The "Bangkok Shutdown," initiated last week, was organized by the People's Democratic Reform Committee. 170,000 rallied Monday, with numbers decreasing through the course of the week. It was marred by incidents of violence.