08/18/2015, 00.00
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Bangkok bomb: another step towards military dictatorship

by Channarong Pattani
Ruling military leaders blame opposition parties, the "red shirts". 75% of the population approves "safety" measures. Since May 2014 the country has been under martial law, reinforced last April. In coming days an amendment to the Constitution that gives the military even broader powers expected to be approved. Meanwhile, the economy slows down.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - 24 hours after the bomb attack on the Herawan Hindu temple in the center of the Thai capital, no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility. But analysts and ordinary people are convinced of one thing: the bomb will lead to a further strengthening of the military presence in the country.

According to the premier Prayuth Chan-ocha, the bomb that left 22 dead and hundreds injured aims to "destroy our economy and tourism."

Suspicions focus on a man filmed by security cameras who Prayut believes belongs to "an anti-government group based in the north of Thailand."

The north is the area  of Thaksin Shinawatra and the "red shirts" movement which in recent years has often clashed with the "yellow shirts", linked to the military.

The parties linked to Thaksin and his sister Yingluck won in elections five times, but encountered a huge resistance from opposing parties.

Since May 22, 2014 Thailand has been under martial law after the military deposed the Yingluck. Last April Prayut replaced martial law with a national security decree that gives even more power to the military to crush any "act aimed at damaging national peace and stability." In reality it targets political opponents, the media, activists.

"In a few days time - a woman tells AsiaNews - amendments to the Constitution are expected to be approved that will give the army even greater power. With this amendment, the army will still have special powers for five years after the end of the emergency rule to ensure what is called a peaceful transition. The most common hypothesis is that the bomb is a sign from the opposition that humiliates the army, as if to say: How can you protect the people if you cannot maintain security? ".

Another hypothesis, ventilated softly, is that it was the army itself planted the bomb in order to strengthen the need for "safety" and control, demanded by at least 75% of the Thai population. No one believes that it is an attack of an Islamic nature: these attacks are usually concentrated in the far south of the country.

According to Paul Chambers, director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs of Chiang Mai, interviewed by Bloomberg, the bomb will only lead to more repressive military measures and new protests against Thaksin, in addition to further undermining the country's economy.

Data released yesterday show that the Thai economy slowed in the second quarter, because of a reduction in domestic demand and exports. The future does not look any brighter, given a severe drought affecting the country and the devaluation of the Chinese yuan.

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