News / Asia

Thailand Tightens Security as Tensions Escalate

Members of the pro-government "red shirt" group take part in a rally in Nakhon Pathom province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, May 11, 2014. Members of the pro-government "red shirt" group take part in a rally in Nakhon Pathom province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, May 11, 2014.
x
Members of the pro-government "red shirt" group take part in a rally in Nakhon Pathom province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, May 11, 2014.
Members of the pro-government "red shirt" group take part in a rally in Nakhon Pathom province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, May 11, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thailand faces a crucial week in its long running political crisis, as fears of violence and civil strife have led to calls by senior security officials to tighten security. 

Thailand's caretaker government says it is stepping up security to prevent clashes between pro- and anti-government protests.

Political tensions are rising amid anti-government calls for a neutral prime minister to be appointed.

Department of Special Investigation chief Tharit Pengdit says calls for a non-elected head of government by the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) are illegal.

Tharit said the PDRC leader Suthep Thangsuban's calls for a non-elected prime minister are "illegal" and are intensifying conflicts that may lead to violence and even civil war.

Meanwhile, leaders from the pro-government Red Shirt movement made similar warnings of growing social conflict as supporters rallied Saturday, many carrying banners of the image of ousted prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck was dismissed along with nine Cabinet members by the constitutional court last week on charges of nepotism.  She was replaced by Deputy Premier Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan.

The government says it hopes to press on with elections scheduled for July 20.  February 2 polls were annulled.  

The governing Pheu Thai Party, largely under control of former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, hopes to regain the political initiative at the election.  Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2001.

But the opposition Democrat Party, which boycotted the earlier vote, is threatening to again stay out without political reforms.

Chulalongkorn University political scientist Panitan Wattanayagorn says the Thai military has stepped up its presence in Bangkok to prevent clashes by the opposing political camps.

Panitan says the political battles are set to escalate over the issues of an appointed prime minister and a Royal decree setting a new election for July 20.

"The legal battles between the two issues will continue for a few days.  In the meantime the supporters of the two groups - the Red Shirts and the PDRC - will drum up their supporters and I think the offensive political move will be in the hands of  the PDRC, the move more quickly to pressure the Senate to act.  But also the aggressive move could be adopted by the Red Shirts trying to occupy other strategic locations," said Panitan.

But reports Sunday said military commanders appeared opposed to Suthep's call for the setting up of an interim government.  The army has ruled out a military coup, saying it will only intervene if violence escalates.

Senior advisor to a pro-government Democratic Force Party, Prasaeng  Mongkonsiri, says behind the scenes talks may already be underway, including with Thaksin.

"The negotiation is now going on.  Not by Khun Niwattumrong probably by Khun Thaksin Shinawatra with some man behind the scene of the PDRC.  My personal opinion I believe Khun Thaksin is trying hard to negotiate to find a good solution for the country," said Prasaeng  Mongkonsiri.

Thailand's present conflict erupted after Yingluck's government passed a bill granting a general amnesty that would include clearing the way for Thaksin, who has lived in exile to avoid a jail term for corruption, and return home a free man.

But while Thaksin has been strongly supported in the rural areas, he faces opposition in the capital and southern provinces by the urban middle class.  He may also have lost support among grass roots backers over failed populist economic policies under Yingluck's government.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
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 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 Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
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.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid