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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid