News / Asia

Thai PM Calls for Talks as Protesters Keep Up Pressure

  • 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.

Protests in Bangkok

— The political drama in Thailand continues Thursday as protesters intent on ousting the prime minister cut off electricity to her office in the capital. Meanwhile, Yingluck Shinawatra was in Chiang Mai, a city in her party's political stronghold, where she repeated calls for dialogue to resolve the weeks-old crisis.

Thailand’s prime minister, struggling to maintain her grip on power as a caretaker until an election early next year, is calling for a national conference Sunday on political reform.

The primary opposition force, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, however, quickly implied it would not join, saying it is holding its own meetings with key sectors prior to Sunday. It reiterated demands that Yingluck should immediately resign.

Yingluck, speaking from Chiang Mai, says the government-backed forum will be held in Bangkok.

The caretaker prime minister says the meeting is intended to listen to opinions from every sector to find the best solution for Thailand’s future.

She made the announcement just after protesters in the capital cut off electricity to the prime minister’s compound. They are demanding police, whom they consider corrupt supporters of the government, abandon the site.

In a previous encounter, police did withdraw to allow the “yellow shirt” protesters to carry out a symbolic one-day occupation of the grounds of Government House.

The yellow shirts strongly object to the continuing perceived influence of Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister’s brother, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006. He resides outside Thailand, unable to return home where he faces prison time for a corruption conviction.

Former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva attends a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, March 2, 2012.Former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva attends a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, March 2, 2012.
x
Former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva attends a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, March 2, 2012.
Former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva attends a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, March 2, 2012.
​Meanwhile Thursday, another former Thai prime minister, Abhisit Vijjajiva was granted bail after being indicted on murder charges stemming from the 2010 crackdown on pro-Thaksin “red shirt” demonstrators.  About 90 people died and nearly 2,000 were injured in April of that year during the worst political violence in the country in decades.

The deputy prime minister at the time, Suthep Taugsuban, who was in charge of a special security agency to respond to the protests, did not show up for his court appearance. His lawyer requested the court give Suthep an extension, saying he is too busy leading the current protests against the government.

Suthep has requested meetings by Thursday evening  with top military and police officers amid his call for a people’s revolution that would replace Thailand’s elected government with an appointed council.

Police chiefs say they would not meet with the protest leaders citing their duty to uphold the law.

A warrant has been issued for Suthep’s arrest on insurrection charges but the police have given no indication any of their officers will attempt to take him into custody.

Army Chiefs also declined the meeting request.

Suthep, however, received pledges of support Thursday from a retired general who previously headed an ultra right wing organization. A group of army cadets has also announced it is backing the anti-government movement.

The powerful military’s stance is always critical in Thailand’s frequent political crises. The generals have launched 18 coups since the end of absolute monarchy rule in 1932.

Thailand's caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to members of the foreign media in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)Thailand's caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to members of the foreign media in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
x
Thailand's caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to members of the foreign media in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
Thailand's caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to members of the foreign media in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
Yingluck, during an question-and-answer session with VOA News and several other organizations Wednesday, expressed confidence the military would not intervene at this juncture.

A royal decree, after the prime minister this week decided to dissolve parliament, authorized new national elections. But the opposition Democrat Party, whose members resigned en masse from parliament Sunday in a protest move, has not given a clear indication whether it will participate in the balloting set for February 2.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
December 12, 2013 8:54 AM
Anti-government protesters always lash out at corruption,I wonder why they don't prosecute Prime Minister Yingluck and her government in national court,This is a legitimate way only. Anti-government protesters always yell for more democracy, I wonder why the protesters don't want to take part in a national election.
What hypocritical the protesters are. A gang of thugs!

In Response

by: Songpol
December 12, 2013 12:46 PM
Yingluck and her party refuse the court verdict. So people have to come to protest the gov. Taksin have money to buy voter and polices. So the protesters want to fix the system before new election happen.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid