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Situation worsening in Thailand

April 12, 2010 Comments off

The situation in Thailand seems to be gradually becoming more and more chaotic.  After days of protest involving peacefully taken blood being daubed on government buildings real blood has been spilt in the last few days and the latest estimates seem to indicate that 21 people have been killed and as many as 900 injured as the military attempted to deal with the red shirt protestors.  The good news is that the military ,at least, seem to be having second thoughts and have drawn back from the conflict with the army chief now suggesting that parliament should be dissolved.  According to the BBC Gen Anupong Paojinda stated ” The best solution of this is to dissolve the House. I don’t want to intervene in politics but I guess the end will be a House dissolution.   Political problems must be solved by political means. House dissolution is a solution but that must be done after a clear time-frame is set.”  Meanwhile a further intervention has come from the Electoral Commission which voted to seek dissolution of  the Democrat Party led by the Prime Minister  in connection with allegations of financial irregularities surrounding the last election.  However, it has also been reported that the red shirts have rejected an offer to dissolve parliament at some point in the next six to nine months and are continuing to push for an immediate dissolution.  Watch this space for anything from a dissolution at gun point through to a further military coup.  Whatever the outcome I am sure that the military will play a key role in the coming days.

Categories: Thai Politics, Thailand

Thailand update

April 7, 2010 Comments off

According to the BBC the Thai Prime Minister has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok to deal with the ongoing anti-government protests.  A couple of days ago protestors were occupying key up market shopping centres and now they have marched on parliament as part of their campaign to get the government to resign and call fresh elections.  The state of emergency gives powers to security forces to help restore order so I guess there will be troops back on the streets of Bangkok again.  I still think that all sides need to get together and firm up a consensus constitution or form a government of national unity if there is to be any serious attempt to resolve this issue.  Further elections either now or later are not going to help if the powers that be will not recognise the legitimacy of those elected to represent the rural poor.

Categories: Thai Politics, Thailand

Thai government stance makes no sense

March 17, 2010 Comments off

According to the Bangkok Post the government have now agreed to meet with the red shirts if Thaksin Shinawatra (who has been just been granted citizenship by Montenegro) agrees that it is ok.  This seems slightly odd to say the least given the government’s stance on Thaksin up until now.  As far as they are concerned he is on the run and awaits a jail term if he returns to Thailand.  So why are they keen to talk?  Maybe this at last reflects some realism with regard to the political situation in Thailand.

It is interesting to see that the Pracharaj Party leader Sanoh Thienthong has suggested that a national government should be set up.  I have previously blogged to the effect that some form of national unity government may be the only practicable way forward and at least this option now seems to be on the table.  The government has said that such a national government could not include UDD core leaders but notably did not state that a national government could not happen and did not rule out other potential Thaksin supporters from forming part of such a government.  This may be a significant step forward if there is to be any hope of ending the current impasse.  There was also mention of such a government attempting to resolve the dispute over the constitution and that would be a significant step forward if all parties are engaged in that process and sign up to the final version.

Categories: Thai Politics

Trouble brewing in Thailand again

March 14, 2010 Comments off

According to the Bangkok Post and the BBC trouble has brewing in Thailand again with somewhere around 100,000 protestors taking to the streets of Bangkok demanding that the Prime Minister resign and dissolve the House of Representatives setting in train a new set of elections. 

This is all part of the long running battle between the pro and anti Thaksin forces which has bedeviled the country since Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup in 2006.  His party was subsequently banned, but further incarnations have arisen, received significant electoral backing and then also been ruled illegal. 

Frankly barring some form of government of National Unity which at least addresses some of the concerns of the rural poor it seems unlikely that this will be resolved in a peaceful way. 

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether the 1,000,000 protestors that have been threatened materialise and what the impact of the further protests which are planned for key sites across Bangkok tomorrow and in the coming days have on the ability of the government to govern.

Categories: Thai Politics

Samak is new Prime Minister

January 29, 2008 3 comments

Thailand’s new parliament yesterday elected Samak Sundaravej, the leader of the PPP, as the country’s new Prime Minister. Cabinet appointments are expected to follow once the appointment of the new Prime Minister has been ratified by King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Aside from the problems of running a six party coalition government and handling the tricky issue of Thaksin Shinawatra’s potential return to Thailand The Guardian reports that “Samak, a right-winger in several army-backed governments that arrested and killed opponents, is himself fighting a two-year sentence for defamation and is the subject of corruption allegations over the purchase of fire trucks while he was Bangkok governor”

Categories: Thai Politics, Thailand

Peace talks?

January 21, 2008 1 comment

A fascinating headline in this mornings Bangkok Post grabbed my attention.

Surayud calls for peace talks

Presumably this would be about trying to bring peace to the southern part of Thailand where the government and insurgents have been waging an ongoing battle.  But no this was about peace talks between the military and the incoming PPP coalition government.

This seemed to imply several possibilities

1)  The outgoing military junta is worried about possible reprisals from the incoming PPP coalition.

2) The outgoing military junta is worried that the rumours about the incoming PPP coalition are true and that they propose to rewrite the constitution before dissolving parliament and holding further elections.

3) The military really do wish to try and reach some compromise solution between what one might term the pro and anti Thaksin forces in the country to try and achieve some longer term stability

4) The statement is actually a veiled threat.  If you need peace talks then that kind of implies that you are at war.  If you are at war then of course that might be a justification for a further military coup if things develop in a way which is not to your liking.

Hopefully it is number three and not number four.  Assuming it is number three then I suspect a lot of compromises will have to be made on all sides none of which will sit particularly well with the respective groups supporters. 

For a start I guess the pro Thaksin side will want to see all charges against him and his wife dropped.  In return the anti Thaksin side will want assurances that the outgoing military government and those who supported it will not be pursued and prosecuted.  So far so good aside from the obvious fact that all parties ought to face the consequences of their actions. 

The anti Thaksin forces will want Thaksin to promise to stay out of politics which he may agree to but I suspect that even if he does agree he will remain very active behind the scenes and the anti Thaksin side will not trust him in any case.  The anti Thaksin side will also want guarantees that the constitution will remain unchanged and it may be this that proves to be the sticking point.

Categories: Thai Politics, Thailand

Samak forms a government

January 19, 2008 Comments off

Yesterday the Supreme Court threw out all the cases against the PPP and the Election Commission which could have blocked the PPP’s attempts to form a government.  Oddly the Supreme Court rejected three of the cases on the grounds that it did not have the power to do so.  Without the detail it is difficult to tell why this might be so.

The People Power Party leader Samak Sundaravej has today held a press conference to officially announce a six-party coalition government.  The government will include the Chart Thai, Puea Pandin, Pracharaj, Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana and Matchimathipataya parties and will have 315 out of the 480 members of parliament.

Categories: Thai Politics, Thailand