10/07/2008, 00.00
THAILAND
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New government takes over in Bangkok amidst barricades, teargas and 60 wounded

Demonstrators belonging to the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) want the resignation of the prime minister, a relative of Thaksin, and a change to the electoral law, too favourable to the rural majority deemed uneducated and manipulable.
Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Several thousand protesters tried to block the new prime minister from delivering his first policy speech before parliament. Riot police using tear gas removed barricades opening the way for the new premier into building, injuring at least 60 people.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat opened the parliamentary session after a 90-minute delay. In his address he covered issues from the global financial crisis to global warming and health care.

As he spoke, police attacked various anti-government demonstrators who, wielding wooden sticks and slingshots, tried to cut electrical wires providing power to the parliament building.

Protesters belong to the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a coalition of businessmen, academics and activists who want the ouster of the government and a major overhaul to the electoral system.

For the past six weeks PAD has been trying to get the government to quit, accusing Prime Minister Somchai of being a proxy for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown in 2006 by military leaders who accused him of corruption, and who now is in exile. Mr Somchai is Mr Thaksin’s brother-in-law.

On 26 August thousands of PAD demonstrators took to street to protest against then Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej—whom they also accused of being a Thaksin puppet—and succeeded in getting him to resign on 9 September after a court found him guilty in a conflict of interest case because he hosted a TV cooking show for money whilst in office.

PAD has accused the ruling People’s Power Party of getting its support from farmers and rural communities, who are the majority of the Thai population, but who are also accused of being too poorly educated to responsibly choose their representatives and are susceptible to manipulation.

PAD supporters want to ditch one-person, one-vote in favour o a mixed system in which some representatives are chosen by certain professions and social groups.

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