11/29/2013, 00.00
THAILAND
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Bangkok, anti-government protesters besiege army headquarters

A thousand people broke into the military compound. The protesters demand the generals declare if they are "with the people or with the dictators". Opponents are demanding the resignation of the executive and the formation of a "council of the people”. Protests are likely to increase over the weekend, before the stop ahead of the king's birthday .

Bangkok ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - On the sixth consecutive day of protests, about one thousand anti-government protesters today stormed the army headquarters in Bangkok, demanding the support of the military in the fight for the resignation of the Thai government. Waving flags and banners, the opponents massed on the lawn inside the compound, located in the historic district of the capital, sheltering from the sun with colorful umbrellas . "We want to know - said Amorn Amornrattananont , one of the protest leaders - if the army will stand with the people or with the dictators ." So far the military has taken no official position, even if on several occasions the same Prime Minister has used force to disperse the protesters .

The protesters want the resignation of the government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra , accused of being a "puppet" in the hands of her brother Thaksin , a billionaire and former prime minister in exile to escape a sentence of two years in prison. In reality, the current government was democratically elected in 2011 and enjoys consensus in large parts of Thailand and yesterday easily survived a no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition in Parliament (297 votes against 134).

The protests of the anti -government protesters - a mix of members of the middle class, royalists and inhabitants of the areas to the south of the country - are the most impressive since 2010, when the kingdom was shaken by a series of demonstrations that ended with a bloodbath and the deaths of 90 civilians . The protesters, tens of thousands so far, are calling for the end of the " Thaksin regime " to be replaced - without an election - with a so-called "council of the people ."

Along with the military , hundreds of opponents gathered outside the headquarters of the Shinawatra government Puea Thai Party, in an "open challenge" to the executive and to its leader, who continues to advocate dialogue for a peaceful solution to the dispute. Yesterday protesters cut power to the police headquarters in Bangkok, in a clear act of provocation towards one of the symbols of authority in the country. Ministries, government offices and local governments in several southern provinces had previously been targeted.

The tension is expected to heighten even more over the weekend, when the protest leaders - including former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban - will hold large-scale demonstrations , in a last ditch attempt, before the traditional time for "calm and respect" that accompanies the birthday celebrations ( December 5) of King Bhumibol Adulyadej .

With the fall of the Thaksin's administration in 2006, Thailand saw a wave of protests that led to social and political instability. The latest chapter was triggered by the government's amnesty bill, which would (among other things) allow Thaksin Shinawatra to return from exile. The proposal, which was recently rejected by the Senate, has also angered government supporters because it would have pardoned those responsible for the massacres of 2010. For Prime Minister Yingluck's government, which has a big majority in parliament and is not likely to lose a vote in the House, this is the most critical time since she came to power in 2011.

 

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