These soldiers are also obliged to maintain law and order, army spokesman Winthai Suwari was quoted by a newspaper as saying.

Winthai said army units have also been deployed to look out for people and protect them from being harmed, reported a news agency. The shutdown has so far affected more than two million people in the capital. Thousands of medical workers have joined the protest demanding political reform before the general elections scheduled for February 2.

The military would not interfere with the political process, Winthai said, referring to the Election Commission’s proposal that the election be postponed from February 2 to May 4. Hundreds of Thais living in New York reportedly rallied at Times Square earlier to support the shutdown programme.

Since November, protestors have been taking to the streets and occupying government offices, calling for an end to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck dissolved the Parliament on December 9 in response to the crisis, calling new elections on February 2. But her move failed to pacify the protestors, with the opposition party closely aligned with the protest movement, announcing a boycott of the elections.

Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister and Democrat Party's Member of Parliament, resigned in November to spearhead the protests.

(Agencies)

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