News / Asia

    Thai Prime Minister Rejects Calls to Step Down

    Thailand Political Deadlock Continues As Protests Turn Violenti
    X
    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

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora