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

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs