02/18/2014, 00.00
THAILAND
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Bangkok, police and protesters clash: one dead, several injured and hundreds of arrests

The police intervene to clear government offices and ministries in the capital, sparking scuffles with the "Yellow Shirts". The government intends to reassert control by the weekend. The opposition leader speaks of "reforms for the benefit of the country", because "the only enemy is the Thaksin regime".

Bangkok ( AsiaNews / Agencies) -  The provisional toll from a day of heavy clashes between police and "Yellow Shirts" anti-government protesters in Bangkok, Thailand, is one policeman dead, several injured and at least a hundred arrests for violation of the emergency law. Since last November, the protesters have been demanding the ouster of the government of acting-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the formation of a "people's council" to initiate reforms and "eradicate the influence of the Thaksin regime". This morning police intervened to try to free the ministerial offices and government buildings occupied by demonstrators in recent weeks, the government intends to reassert control of the situation by the end of the week.

Yesterday, thousands of people gathered outside the office of the Prime Minister, the heart of the executive power in Thailand, which has become the primary objective (and symbol) of the protest. At dawn, the police initiated talks with the protesters who flocked to isolate the area. Violence erupted, spreading to the central district of Bangkok. A policeman was killed in the clashes, at least 40 people were wounded (according to hospital sources) . In several places in the capital shots were fired, although it is unclear by whom.

The police had tried to avoid the use of force, allowing protesters break through protection barriers on several occasions and raid government headquarters in an attempt to ease the tension. Speaking to the police this morning the leader of the anti-government bloc Suthep Thaugsuban said they did not want to fight "to seize power" and added that the reforms will benefit "your children and your grandchildren". "The only enemy - he added - is the Thaksin regime".

The anti -government protests - a mix of members of the middle class, royalists and the inhabitants of the south - are the biggest since 2010, when the kingdom was shaken by a series of riots that ended in bloodshed and death 90 civilians. 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 , the billionaire and former prime minister in exile to escape a two-year prison sentence. He is disliked by many exponents close to the monarchy, who fear he wants to undermine the institutional system of the country at a particularly fragile time for the poor health the 86 year old King Bhumibol Adulyadej .

February 2, elections were held - boycotted by the opposition Democratic Party - which sanctioned the victory of Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party, but the vote is not yet final; some provinces of the south still have to vote , an area seen as a democratic stronghold.

 

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