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Bangkok Airport Welcomes First Post-Takeover Flight

The first flight has arrived at Bangkok's main airport since anti-government protesters ended a week-long takeover.

A Thai Airways jetliner carrying passengers from the resort island of Phuket landed at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport Wednesday, at 0715 GMT.  

The plane arrived hours after leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) officially returned control of the facility to airport officials and ordered their followers to leave.  

Thousands of alliance supporters had seized both the international airport and Bangkok's domestic airport to back up their demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his government. The protesters accused him of being a proxy of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.  

The takeover left more than a quarter-million tourists stranded and has devastated the country's vital tourism industry.  

Airport officials say normal operations should resume within 24 to 48 hours.  

The protesters agreed to disband after the Constitutional Court outlawed Thailand's top three parties Tuesday and banned their leaders, including Mr. Somchai, from politics for five years. The court found the parties guilty of voter fraud.

Deputy Prime Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul will serve as caretaker prime minister until parliament approves a new head of government. Mr. Chaovarat says parliament will convene early next week to select the new leader -- the country's third prime minister this year.  

The new leader could face similar protests by the PAD if considered a proxy for Mr. Thaksin.

Pro-government supporters accused the judiciary of staging a "silent coup" against the prime minister.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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