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 Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid