News / Asia

    Thai Government Under Pressure to Dissolve

    Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is under increasing pressure to step down and call new elections after deadly clashes between soldiers and anti-government protesters.

    Anti-government protesters continue to occupy key landmarks in Bangkok, despite clashes with security forces Saturday that killed 21 people, 16 of them protesters.

    As both sides mourn their dead, and plan their next steps, political analysts here say the next casualty looks increasingly likely to be the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

    The protesters, known for the red shirts they wear, want Mr. Abhisit to call new elections immediately, and reject his offer for elections in six months. They have protested in Bangkok for more than a month.

    "Well, you know, he's tried the hard approach, he's tried the soft approach," said William Case, director of the Southeast Asia Research Center at Hong Kong's City University.   "Nothing seems to have worked. He has just alienated and emboldened the red shirt forces. And, in consequence, he at the moment has lost a lot of standing and a lot of prestige, and it doesn't look like he's got a lot of options left."



    The government called off security forces and expressed sorrow for the deaths. But officials say soldiers are preparing for the possibility of further action against protesters.

    However, in a sign of a possible split between the government and the military, the army chief, General Anupong Paochinda, says he is against using force. Instead, he says, government should focus on negotiating when to hold new elections.

    Case says Mr. Abhisit's decision to use force against the protesters may have cost him support.

    "There's a lot of discussion about his being forced out. He's just not useful to the traditional elites any longer," he said.  "So, they're going to have to find another approach and that means, possibly, dispensing with him."

    Adding to the pressure, the Election Commission says Mr. Abhisit's Democrat Party is guilty of accepting an illegal campaign donation and should be dissolved.

    The final decision will be made by a constitutional court, which is expected to take some days, if not weeks.

    Somchai Phatharathananunth, a lecturer on Thai politics at central Thailand's Mahasarakham University, says neither the election commission nor the constitutional court are free of political interference.

    "The real decision making will be behind the scenes. I think if they bargain behind the scene[s] and reach the solution … and then they will announce it," said Somchai.

    Regardless of political wrangling, the Election Commission ruling adds weight to calls for early elections.

    But analysts say new elections, which red shirt-backed candidates are likely to win, would do little to ease tensions in the country.

    "If there will be the new government then you know some other groups of people will say that I'm not happy with this government," said Surat Horachaikul, a professor of politics at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.  "I want this color, you know, the government to be of this blue color, yellow color, red color, whatsoever. But, this is not about democracy because democracy is about living with something you don't like as well."

    Many of the demonstrators support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in 2006 and now lives in exile to avoid jail for a corruption conviction.

    Surat says they want to whitewash charges against Mr. Thaksin and bring him back into power, which would bring yellow-dressed protesters back onto the streets.

    The yellow shirts in 2008 surrounded government house and for a week seized Bangkok's airports in a bid to end governments friendly to Mr. Thaksin. Eventually court rulings about campaign practices forced out two governments that favored him.

    Thailand's urban elite and middle class consider Mr. Thaksin to be corrupt and authoritarian. The red shirt demonstrators, on the other hand, are mainly from the countryside. They say the current government is run by Bangkok elites backed by the military who care little about their plight.

    Prime Minister Abhisit says he is still willing to negotiate with protest leaders but they have rejected further talks.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora