News / Asia

Thai PM Seeks Reconciliation Despite Threat of More Protests

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks at a news conference after a cabinet meeting at an Air Force base in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 25, 2013.Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks at a news conference after a cabinet meeting at an Air Force base in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 25, 2013.
x
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks at a news conference after a cabinet meeting at an Air Force base in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 25, 2013.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks at a news conference after a cabinet meeting at an Air Force base in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 25, 2013.
Reuters
Embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called for reconciliation on Tuesday as the streets of the capital, Bangkok, emptied ahead of New Year celebrations, a rare period of calm after weeks of unrest.
 
Anti-government protesters have vowed to disrupt a Feb. 2 election called by Yingluck in a bid to settle a crisis that has pitted her government against Bangkok's conservative elite and middle class.
 
The demonstrators have threatened to shut down Bangkok after the New Year, with plans to block roads in up to 20 places, although the scope of their protests has not always matched the promises made by their leader, Suthep Thaugsuban.
 
Yingluck has not been in Bangkok for more than a week, spending time among supporters in the north, but she used social media to send a message seeking peace and reconciliation.
 
“On the occasion of New Year 2014, may I ask all Thais to be united in mind, to seek a blessing for the Thai people to love and harmonize and for those who differ in views, be it their political ideology or belief, to reconcile for a peaceful resolution for our nation,” she said in a Facebook post.
 
An anti-government protester walks past pictures taken during clashes with riot policemen, during a rally outside the Government House in Bangkok December 29, 2013.An anti-government protester walks past pictures taken during clashes with riot policemen, during a rally outside the Government House in Bangkok December 29, 2013.
x
An anti-government protester walks past pictures taken during clashes with riot policemen, during a rally outside the Government House in Bangkok December 29, 2013.
An anti-government protester walks past pictures taken during clashes with riot policemen, during a rally outside the Government House in Bangkok December 29, 2013.
The demonstrators are determined to topple Yingluck, who they see as a puppet of her self-exiled brother and former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra.
 
Bangkok's normally gridlocked streets were mostly clear on Tuesday as people headed to the provinces for the holiday.
 
The latest protests have flared into violence at several protest sites over the past five days. At least eight people have been killed since they began in late November.
 
On Thursday, a policeman and a protester were killed when an unidentified gunman fired during chaotic clashes outside an election registration center.
 
Another protester was killed by an unidentified gunman at another rally site in a pre-dawn attack on Saturday. The Erawan Emergency Centre in Bangkok said another protester had been taken to hospital suffering gunshot wounds to the chest and arm after a shooting at a third site late on Monday.
 
Worry about military intervention
 
The violence is the latest in years of rivalry between Bangkok's middle class and royalist establishment and the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and Thaksin.
 
Even though her Puea Thai Party would most likely win the election, Yingluck's position has become more tenuous as the conflict drags on, with street violence opening the possibility of intervention by the politicized military or judiciary.
 
That became increasingly apparent last week, when the army chief declined to rule out a coup. Thailand's military has launched or attempted 18 coups in 81 years of fragile democracy, including Thaksin's 2006 overthrow.
 
The military has since sought to ease fears that yet another coup was imminent.
 
Riot policemen walk around during a registration of election candidates at a bus terminal centre near the Government complex in Bangkok, Dec. 28, 2013.Riot policemen walk around during a registration of election candidates at a bus terminal centre near the Government complex in Bangkok, Dec. 28, 2013.
x
Riot policemen walk around during a registration of election candidates at a bus terminal centre near the Government complex in Bangkok, Dec. 28, 2013.
Riot policemen walk around during a registration of election candidates at a bus terminal centre near the Government complex in Bangkok, Dec. 28, 2013.
Most of the protests have been centered in Bangkok, although demonstrators have also blocked registration for the polls in seven provinces in the south. The protesters and the main opposition Democrat Party, which has declared it will boycott the poll, have many supporters in the south.
 
The protesters say the wealthy Shinawatra family has effectively manipulated Thailand's democracy by buying the support of the rural poor with populist policies such as cheap healthcare and subsidies for rice farmers.
 
Former telecoms tycoon Thaksin and his allies have won every election since 2001. He fled into exile in 2008 before being sentenced to jail on graft charges he said were politically motivated.
 
Yingluck's party miscalculated badly in November when it tried to force through an amnesty that would have allowed Thaksin to return a free man, sparking the latest round of protests.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid