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 2nd American Reportedly Killed in Syria

Local television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left the area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France More

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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid