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  • » 05/10/2011, 00.00

    THAILAND

    Divided, Thais to vote on 3 July



    For outgoing PM Abhisit, the poll represents a “new beginning”. For his pro-Thaksin opponents, it will be a chance to win back power after their judicial exclusion in 2008. Analysts stress that the country is still hampered by “deep cleavages”. Doubts remain over the role of the military, whose leaders are concerned about any ‘Jasmine Revolution’ effect.
    Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the country is on the cusp of a “new beginning”. For his opponents, who are close to exiled former prime minister and billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, it will be a chance to win back power lost in 2008, following a court decision. Thais will in fact go to the polls in a general election on 3 July to renew their parliament, and hopefully put behind five years of political crises and social divisions. King Bhumibol Adulyadej accepted a bill to dissolve parliament six months before its natural end.

    The election will be a test for the current prime minister. The coalition he leads came to power because of a December 2008court ruling, which removed from office the government then in power. The decision came after weeks of protests by ‘yellow shirts’ blocking the capital’s main airports.

    Abhisit and his Democrat Party, which are close to the capital’s social and economic elites, now want a popular mandate to legitimise their hold on power.

    Against them are supporters of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled Thailand after being sentenced to two years in prison on corruption charges. He had won the previous elections but had been deposed by the military in a bloodless coup in 2006. The following year, his supporters won the election thanks to his great popularity in the countryside and among the poor, especially in the North. However, yellow shirt protests in the fall of 2008 led the judges to annul the 2007 elections once again.

    Abhisit’s rise to power did not bring peace to the nation. In the last two years, the authorities have shed the blood of protesters. The apex came in the spring of 2010 when pro-Thaksin ‘red shirts’ brought the capital to a standstill for ten weeks. It took the army and at least 90 dead (and hundreds of injured and wounded) for the unrest to stop.

    This year, the outgoing government was able to amend the constitution, increasing the number of parliamentarians running on party lists, whilst reducing the weight of electoral colleges where Thaksin’s support is strong.

    Local political analysts and experts agree that the nation is still split in two, and that unrest remains a distinct possibility, independent of the election outcome.

    Finally, the military remains a factor to take into consideration. Its leaders are in fact concerned that Thailand, like the Arab world, might feel the winds of its own ‘Jasmine Revolution’.

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    See also

    19/03/2010 THAILAND
    Bangkok: “red shirts” reject overtures by Thai PM
    Anti-government demonstrators confirm they will continue their protest, announce new action for tomorrow. They want to see the government resign, parliament dissolve and new elections held. Their target is the ruling elite and the military, against whom they have declared “class warfare”.

    27/02/2010 THAILAND
    Bangkok: partial sentence for Thaksin, confiscated half of frozen assets
    The former Thai prime minister and multimillionaire has a month to appeal against the sentence. The courts have seized part of his assets (1.7 billion Euros), the result of illegal deals while he was in public office. The ruling could trigger new violence in the country.

    26/04/2010 THAILAND
    Yellow Shirts call for martial law as a Catholic colonel is buried
    To pro-government movement says it will defend the country against the Red Shirts. Prime Minister Abhisit rejects opposition proposal for elections in three months time. AsiaNews remembers Christopher Romklao Thuwatham, a 44-year-old army colonel, who died during violent clashes in the capital on 10 April.

    25/11/2013 THAILAND
    Bangkok : tens of thousands take to streets against government , fears of new violence
    The " Yellow Shirts " demand ouster of the executive and the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra . Protest sparked by proposed amnesty for Thaksin . Opponents believe he is the true "leader" of the current government . Repression of the 2010 protests, with 90 deaths, still vivid.

    16/03/2010 THAILAND
    Bangkok, the blood of the "Red Shirts" for the resignation of Abhisit
    The protesters have launched a blood collection to be donated at the entrance of the government palace. The leaders of the protest besiege the building, guarded by officers in riot gear. The initiative causes concern for fear of epidemics and infection. The Thai premier rules out the possibility of quitting office. Buddhist and Catholic leaders pray for peace.



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