Thailand: Mess in Bangkok, Tensions Rise

Updated On: Nov 28, 2008

The political impasse in Bangkok between the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and pro-Thaksin forces has boiled over. The PAD has made a “last push” against the Somchai government, which they regard as a proxy for ousted premier Thaksin, who has been convicted for corruption but remains at large abroad. After months of the PAD occupying the government house, they have mustered even larger numbers to block the airports, highways and Parliament house.

The situation in the capital was extremely tense yesterday as coup rumours prompted reaction from anti-government protesters and their rivals. Both camps mobilised their supporters for street fighting, while government and business offices suggested their staff get out early.

Newspaper offices were flooded with phone calls inquiring or giving "tips" about an imminent coup. A source claimed Army chief Anupong Paochinda had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to exchange ultimatums.

A blink could result in the prime minister's stepping down or the removal of the Army commander.  There were also grave concerns that a coup attempt could spark nationwide violence involving pro- and anti-Thaksin Shinawatra mobs, as well as the military.

Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the military would not undertake a coup since it would not end the political conflict. Some anti-coup groups might come out to resist and that could result in bloodshed, he said.

Anupong, who was publicly silent, reportedly cancelled a meeting of the military-run TV Channel 5 board of directors and met Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda. 
Amid the rumours of the coup and the exchange of ultimatums, the Cabinet, meeting in Chiang Mai, rushed to clarify its position that it would not consider purging the military top brass.

The SIIA informed our members about the renewal of political tensions in May even before the PAD moved to occupy government house.

Source: The Nation, November 28, 2008 http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2008/11/28/politics/politics_30089619.ph... Growing Unease Capital increasingly tense as coup rumours spread

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