Thailand: Airport Siege Ends, New Uncertainty Begins

Updated On: Dec 05, 2008

A sense of normality returned to Bangkok after a blockade of the airports ended on Wednesday 3 December. Protestors from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) also left Government house, which .they had occupied for three months.

The airport blockade had brought much of the country to a standstill and affected thousands of travelers, both foreign and Thai. Even Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat of the PPP party, returning from the APEC Summit in Peru, was diverted to Chiang Mai.

Widespread concern was that the PAD, which considers the PPP as a surrogate for ex premier Thaksin Shinawatra, might escalate clashes with thousands of Thaksin supporters who had come into Bangkok or police deployed to end the blockade.

The PAD siege ended claiming victory after the Constitutional Court ordered PM Somchai to be banned from politics for five years, after it found the PPP party guilty of election irregularities. Its allied parties Chart Thai and Matichima were also outlawed.

But while Bangkok’s airports are working again, and protestors have left government house, disputes continue in the corridors of power.

Discussions and bargaining behind the scenes are on going to try to form the next government

The Opposition Democrat Party is lobbying for support from prospective defectors from the current coalition in an attempt to form a new government.

A faction from the disbanded People Power Party, whose members are loyal to banned politician Newin Chidchob, has been approached to join a Democrat-led coalition, the source added. Sanan Kachornprasart, chief adviser to the disbanded Chart Thai Party who was previously Democrat secretary-general, was also approached.

Controversy also arose from an event that did not happen. Thailand’s revered King failed to make his traditional birthday speech on 4 December because he is ill, his children said. This ended hopes he might offer guidance amid a long-running political crisis.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej who turns 81 on 5 Dec and is the world’s longest reigning monarch, pulled out of the highly-anticipated address to the nation last minute as millions of Thais tuned in their radios.

The King last appeared in public at a pre-birthday Trooping the Colour ceremony on Tuesday, hours after the court ousted the Prime Minister, but that event was also cut short. He spoke briefly, reading hoarsely from a text. Some analysts say that the King did not want to get directly and publicly involved in the turmoil that has rocked Thailand.

Sources: “His Majesty is Mildly Sick”, The Nation, 5 December 2008,
“Democrats hoping defectors will help it set up a new govt”, The Nation, 5 December, 2008,http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2008/12/05/politics/politics_30090268.ph...

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