News / Asia

Thai Prime Minister Rejects Calls to Step Down

Thailand Political Deadlock Continues As Protests Turn Violenti
December 02, 2013 9:06 PM
Thailand's prime minister says she is open to negotiations to defuse the country's political crisis, but remains unwilling to bow to her opponent's demands to turn over the government to an unelected council. VOA's Steve Herman reports from Bangkok, where Yingluck Shinawatra said the country's influential military will remain neutral in the standoff.
Thailand's prime minister says she is open to negotiations to defuse the country's political crisis, but remains unwilling to bow to her opponents’ demands to turn over the government to an unelected council. Yingluck Shinawatra also says the country's influential military will remain neutral in the standoff.
Bangkok's street rallies, which began weeks ago, have escalated into increasingly violent confrontations as protest leaders vow to topple the government this week.
Outside the prime minister's offices, police fired rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and deployed water cannons to contain the protesters.
Despite the chaos at some rally sites, business in the city largely continued unimpeded Monday and most government workers appeared to ignore the opposition's call for a strike.
But demonstrators remain committed to their cause. Protester Watcharapon Vichayathanatom, says the fact that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s party won an election landslide in 2011 is meaningless.
She said the prime minister’s election resulted from vote buying and buying the votes of politicians. So she may have won the election but millions of people have now come out, so she cannot say any longer that she has the majority of votes.
Yingluck said the opposition is neither asking for her resignation nor for the dissolution of parliament, but rather that the prime minister’s power be returned to the people.
“I don’t know how we can proceed with this offer because this offer does not exist under the practice of this constitutional law,” Yingluck  said.
To some of the protesters, such as Raewat Pampradit, people power - although not clearly defined - is the only solution. He said power must be returned to the people and a people’s council established.
Tight corner 
Political Developments in Thailand

2006: Army overthrows Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
2007: Pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins elections
2008: Anti-Thaksin protesters, known as Yellow Shirts, stage months of demonstrations, briefly paralyze airports. Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes prime minister.
2010: Massive pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" protests held in Bangkok, dozens killed
2011: Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin, elected prime minister
2013: Anti-government protesters hold massive street demonstrations
Thailand has been politically unstable for seven years since Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was deposed in a military coup. But the governing party has won every election since 2001.
Chulalongkorn University political science professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak said the prime minister finds herself in a tight corner even though what the opposition proposes is likely not acceptable to a majority of the electorate.
“It’s a kind of civilian coup led by the protest movement backed by the Democrat Party machinery and representing many minority voters who have been losing the elections in Thailand. They have become fed up, disillusioned with the election system and Thailand electoral democracy,” said Thitinan.
Democracy has long been fragile here with the military conducting 18 coups since the end of absolute monarchy rule in 1932.
Yingluck said the generals will remain neutral. But many observers believe the military will ultimately be the deciding factor, in the days ahead, in whether this government survives.
  • Anti-government protesters throw rocks after riot police fired tear gas at them near the Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
  • A military medical unit team assists an injured protester after riot police threw a tear gas canister during clashes in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters use fans to blow away tear gas as riot police use a water cannon during clashes in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
  • A Buddhist monk helps an anti-government protester clean his eyes with salt water solution after riot police fired tear gas in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester throws a tear gas canister towards police from behind a barricade during clashes near the Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 1, 2013.
  • A crowd listens to an anti-government speech at and above a major Bangkok intersection, Thailand, Dec. 1, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • Police stand behind razor wire at their headquarters in Bangkok, Dec. 1, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • An anti-government protester gets ready to throw back a tear gas canister fired by riot police in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 1, 2013.

Steve Herman

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

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: hoan dao from: ha noi
December 02, 2013 11:38 PM
it likes a crisis of belief when the electoral system does not satisfy people. How does this situation go on with the violence rising up everyday? It can not predict.

by: Dorcas from: South Africa
December 02, 2013 11:31 PM
I think the protesters are very unrealistic. They certainly haven't learnt from what happened in Egypt. Forcing a democratically elected leader to step down will always result in more bloodshed. They should at least let her finish her current term in office.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 02, 2013 8:50 PM
It looks like fair for all people to resolve the parliament and elect a new prime minister. Why protesters and ex-vice PM require neither dissolution nor resignation of PM? Thaksin groups still remains powerful in rural area and they are supposed to win the election again?

by: Thai from: BKK
December 02, 2013 7:35 PM
Steve, You are totally wrong in data and information. We are not sure that you hosted in BKK or in north pole. PM have not rejected the step down. In opposite, She accepted step down but PM step down is not target from protesters.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs