News / Asia

Thai Protest Continues Despite PM's Call for New Election

Thai Protest Continues Despite Prime Minister’s Call for New Electionsi
X
December 09, 2013 6:15 PM
Thailand's prime minister dissolved the government and called for new elections Monday, but that did little to appease the more than 150,000 people who took to the streets in the capital, demanding she resign. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Thailand's prime minister dissolved the government and called for new elections Monday, but that did little to appease the more than 150,000 people who took to the streets in the capital, demanding she resign.

As demonstrators began converging again on the seat of the Thai government's power, a conciliatory Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced she would ask the crown to consent to dissolve parliament and hold snap elections.

In a brief, nationally televised address, the prime minister acknowledged widespread opposition to her government, emphasizing authorities do not want to see any further "loss of life."

The prime minister says that after listening to opinions from all sides, she has “decided to request a royal decree to dissolve parliament.”

But Yingluck says her cabinet will remain intact, albeit with limited powers, and she is staying on as caretaker prime minister. Her party says she will stand as a candidate in the new election to be held by February 2.

That did little to appease protesters whose leaders demanded she immediately step down.

  • Thai anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban holds clenched fists during a march with his supporters in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 22, 2013. 
  • Thai anti-government protesters march cross Takin Bridge during a rally, Dec. 22, 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. 
  • Thai anti-government protesters march in the streets, Dec. 22, 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. 
  • Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Thailand's capital paralyzing traffic and facing off with police outside the prime minister's residence in their latest mass rally against Thailand's government, Dec. 22, 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • A Thai anti-government protester holds a banner as she joins a rally outside Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's residence, Dec. 22, 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, center, with his wife Srisakul Promphan, in white, arrives at the Democracy monument, in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 15, 2013. 
  • A protester with a Thai national flag walks past concrete barriers sprayed with "Failed Government" outside the fence around Government House, wrapped by a long banner in the colors of the national flag in Bangkok, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters remove barbed wire after briefly entering the compound of the prime minister's office, known as Government House, in Bangkok, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Police wear their riot gear inside Government House, as anti-government protesters gather behind its fence and gates in Bangkok, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • A group of Buddhist monks walk past a sleeping anti-government protester at a protest camp on a road near Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters sleep outside Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters carry a huge Thai national flag as they march in Bangkok, Dec. 9, 2013.

Demonstrator Watcharapon Wuou was among those marching to the government center after Yingluck's announcement.

He says the protestors are not satisfied with the dissolution of the parliament and the "prime minister must resign or get out of the country."

The opposition has repeatedly rejected the idea of new elections, instead saying they want to change the country's political system.

Its most vocal leader, a former deputy prime minister, has demanded the elected government be replaced by an appointed but vaguely defined "people's council."

The roots of Thailand's political instability go back years to when Yingluck's brother, the billionaire tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister. Although he lives in exile to avoid prison for corruption charges, the parties he has backed have won every national election since 2001, largely from the support of rural and working-class voters.

Observers have deemed the elections free and fair, but his opponents, mainly the capital's middle class and royalist elite, contend Thaksin and his family buy their way to power and enrich themselves while in office.

Protester Santhanee Methaneethom  says that is why new elections will not work.

“It is the time that the Thai country should be clean from corruption. So that’s why the people are all here,” said Santhanee Methaneethom.

The latest round of demonstrations began over an amnesty bill introduced by the ruling party that would have cleared the way for Thaksin to return home. The bill was defeated, but sparked mostly peaceful protests that have lasted weeks.

Domestic media reports say leaders of Thailand's powerful military are growing increasingly displeased. The generals have intervened 18 times since 1932, when absolute monarchy rule ended. And despite the assurances of military leaders that this latest crisis will not lead to another coup, few Thais rule that out as a possibility.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs