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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora