News / Asia

Bangkok Braces for Renewed Conflict

An anti-government protester waves a national flag in front of riot police officers and soldiers guarding the entrance of the National Broadcast Services of Thailand (NBT) television station in Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
An anti-government protester waves a national flag in front of riot police officers and soldiers guarding the entrance of the National Broadcast Services of Thailand (NBT) television station in Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thailand’s anti-government protesters celebrated the court-ordered removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra this week and returned to the capital Friday in a campaign to force the entire government to resign.

In downtown Bangkok, where many are bracing for violence as pro-government supporters prepare to rally on Saturday, anti-government protesters blocked several key roads as they celebrated Yingluck's departure.

Earlier in the day, Thai riot police used tear gas to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters who took to the streets following Wednesday's Thai Constitutional Court ruling to remove Yingluck and nine of her cabinet members from power. Thailand's Anti-Corruption Commission added to Yingluck's woes on Thursday, ruling that there is enough evidence to indict Yingluck in a controversial rice subsidy program that her critics say was riddled with corruption and wasted billions of dollars.
 
  • Anti-government protesters react as their leader arrives at Thailand's parliament building during the senate session in Bangkok, May 12, 2014.
  • Newly elected Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai (right) and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greet each other in parliament, Bangkok. May 12, 2014.
  • Emboldened by the removal of Thailand's prime minister, anti-government protesters withdrew from Bangkok's main park and marched to the vacated prime minister's office compound seen here, where protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has pledged to set up office, Bangkok, May 12, 2014.
  • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, center, talks on his mobile phone during a rally outside the parliament building, in Bangkok, May 12, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester waves a national flag in front of riot police officers and soldiers guarding the entrance of the National Broadcast Services of Thailand (NBT) television station, in Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters step on a poster of ousted Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra outside the National Broadcast Services of Thailand (NBT) television station, in Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters watch as an injured man is taken away from a clash site at a police compound, in the north of Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters are singing as they ride on a truck during a rally. A court ousted Thailand's prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for abuse of power, handing the anti-government demonstrators a victory for their efforts the past six months, in Bangkok, May 8, 2014.
  • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greets supporters during a rally, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 8, 2014.
  • Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra greets her supporters as she leaves the Permanent Secretary of Defence office in Bangkok, May 7, 2014.
  • Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, 66, was quickly appointed the new acting leader after Prime Minsiter Yiungluck Shinawatra was ordered to step down by a May 7, 2014 court ruling, in Bangkok.

The case will now proceed to the Senate, where Yingluck will face an impeachment vote that could see her receive a five-year ban from politics. She has been replaced as caretaker prime minister by Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan, who is a close ally of Yingluck and her influential brother, ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The rulings send Thailand deeper into a prolonged political deadlock that pits the mostly rural and poor supporters of Thaksin and Yingluck against the mostly middle class opposition, many of whom are not satisfied with Yingluck's departure alone, since much of her government remains in place. They called for a "final offensive" in the form of Friday's mass protest.

Speaking to supporters in a city park on Friday, opposition protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban urged supporters to rally outside parliament, the prime minister's offices and five television stations, to prevent them from being used by the government.

Lhienthong Thisopha, a 72-year-old retired army officer, says he supports the rallies to end the influence of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin, a billionaire and divisive figure in Thai politics whose parties have won every national election since 2001.

"Even though Ms. Yingluck has been forced from office, the remainder of the government remains, much like a tree," Lhienthong said.

Protesters are still pressing to replace the government with an unelected council that would put in place far-reaching political reforms before the next election, now scheduled for July.

Samarn Lertwongrath, a senior member of the governing Pheu Thai Party member, says even if protesters delay the July vote, elections are likely before the end of the year because of the toll the standoff is taking on the economy.

"I myself believe that maybe they will prolong the election," Samarn said. "But anyhow, there has to be an election within a year — they have no choice because all the businessmen have to push everything to solve the problem and [anti-government protest leader] Suthep Thaugsuban must be responsible for the bad situation in the economy."

Thailand’s economy has faltered since the protests began late last year. The economy grew about 2.9 percent in 2013, but could be worse this year with falling tourist arrivals, an expensive and controversial rice purchasing plan, and reluctance from foreign investors to expand at a time of uncertainty.

According to Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the unfolding political circumstances complicate any prevailing economic projections.

"Maybe this year the Thai economy will grow about zero to 2 percent, depending on the political situation," Thanavath said. "Maybe if Red Shirt and Yellow shirt - if we have something [that] gets into a violent situation - it's not good for the Thai economy, for Thai people and businessmen. [It] will slow down their activity and they don't want to invest anything. So it's quite hard to predict."

Thai military and police are reported to be stepping up efforts to prevent outbreaks of violence as pro-government supporters threaten to descend on Bangkok in coming days.

Thai police say a grenade was thrown early Thursday at the home of one of the judges of the country's Constitutional Court.
 
Police say no one was injured in the early morning attack, though the grenade did cause minor damage to a roof and a vehicle at the judge's Bangkok home. A bank and hospital were also damaged by grenades overnight.
 
Thailand's power struggle over the past six months has already claimed the lives of more than 20 people and left dozens injured.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Petroinous from: Bangkok
May 09, 2014 10:39 AM
These Emerging Asian countries Thailand and India etc are all headed towards anarchy, and perhaps, blood shed in their inexorable quest to seize political power, hook or crook, and loot the country. Only after they have perpetrated enough mayhem and forced the ordinary citizen to go through hell will these self-serving politicians will realize their folly, if they ever will. Nations like Egypt and Libya which clamored for democracy have shown the world what kind of democracy they were talking about.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid