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Protesters leave Lumpini for Rajdamnoen

Posted by pakin On May - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Anti-government protesters on Monday cleaned Lumpini Park as they prepared to move to a new rally site at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge on Rajdamnoen Road.

The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters had occupied the park for two months. The protesters were seen packing their belongings and their tents.

They are scheduled to depart the park at 2.14pm. The march to Makkhawan Rangsan will be led by Suthep and core leaders.

The march will pass Rajdamri road, Rajprasong and Pathumwan intersections, Phaya Thai road, Rajthevi intersection, Urupong, Yommarat and Nang Leung intersections before arriving at Makkhawan Rangsan which is opposite United Nations headquarters.

Upon arrival at the site, some protesters will go to the Parliament to monitor the Senate’s special session on the political situation.

Bomb squads are scheduled to check the park for possible abandoned explosives after the protesters leave.

Russia has expressed outrage at a fatal shooting in eastern Ukraine which it blamed on Ukrainian nationalists.

At least three people were reported killed in a gun attack on a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian activists near the town of Sloviansk.

A Ukrainian official said it may have been a shootout between criminals. Nationalists have denied involvement.

The incident comes as pro-Russian groups continue to occupy government buildings defying a deal to leave.

Ertogrul Apakan, who heads the special mission of the Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe in Kiev, said his deputy would be in Donetsk to try to get them to comply with an agreement reached on Thursday to ease the crisis.

Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US agreed during talks in Geneva on Thursday that illegal military groups in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that those occupying government premises must be disarmed and leave.

But the separatists’ spokesman in the city of Donetsk said that the Kiev government was “illegal”, and vowed they would not go until it stepped down.

TV pictures showed what was described as the aftermath of an attack on a pro-Russian checkpoint at about 01:00 local time (22:00 on Saturday GMT), including the body of a man under a cover.

The BBC is unable to verify the footage. However, a Reuters journalist at the scene reported seeing two bodies in a truck.

Daylight Reuters TV footage of the scene shows several burnt-out vehicles.

The Russian foreign ministry said the Ukrainian far-right group Right Sector was behind the attack. A business card with the name of its leader Dmytro Yarosh appeared in the unverified Russian TV pictures.

“Russia is indignant about this provocation by gunmen, which testifies to the lack of will on the part of the Kiev authorities to rein in and disarm nationalists and extremists,” it said in a statement.

Right Sector spokesman Artyom Skoropadsky told the BBC the group had nothing to do with the shooting.

“Right sector was not there, and whatever happened there was an obvious provocation from the Russian secret services,” he said.

Viktoriya Siumar, deputy head of Ukraine’s National Security Council, also speaking to the BBC, said the shooting was being investigated, but said there were indications that it was “an argument between local criminal groups”.

“The level of criminality in eastern Ukraine increased substantially recently,” she added.

This is the first fatal incident in the region since Thursday’s agreement, prompting Sloviansk rebel leader and self-proclaimed mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev to call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to send peacekeepers. He also asked for food and weapons.

Mr Ponomarev added that a “people’s army of Donbass” was being set up. Donbass (Don river basin) is the industrial area of eastern Ukraine made up of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The BBC’s James Reynolds in Donetsk says that the Geneva deal is already in trouble and events in Sloviansk will do little to change that.

‘Threat to the globe’

Meanwhile in an interview for NBC’s Meet the Press aired on Sunday, Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to “restore the Soviet Union”.

“It’s crystal clear that for today, Russia is the threat to the globe, and the threat to the European Union, and a real threat to Ukraine,” Mr Yatsenyuk said.

Ukraine has been in crisis since President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in February.

Russia then annexed Crimea following a regional referendum that approved joining the Russian federation. The annexation provoked international outrage.

Pro-Russian activists then occupied buildings in several eastern Ukrainian cities, many calling on Moscow to support them.

Ukraine has said that operations against the pro-Russian militants have been suspended over Easter.

Ukraine’s interim authorities have appealed for national unity and promised to meet some of the demands of pro-Russian protesters.

These include the decentralisation of power and guarantees for the status of the Russian language.

But the US has warned the next few days will be pivotal and has threatened more sanctions against Russia if it fails to abide by the agreement.

US Vice-President Joe Biden is set to visit Kiev on Tuesday.

Yingluck heads for judicial showdown

Posted by Rattana_S On April - 16 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Bangkok – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra faces acourt hearing this week that could bar her from office, a move that would be in line with the aims of recent anti-government protests, but that would plunge the country into uncharted waters.

Officials have hinted that even a ruling against her and her cabinet could leave enough of it intact to limp on to fresh elections, or might even not be implemented, while opposition activists have hinted at the possibility of wider civil conflict.

On Friday, Yingluck is due before the Constitutional Court to defend herself against charges that she abused her premiership in 2011 when she transferred the chief of the National Security Council, allegedly to assure the advancement of one of her relatives.

A ruling is expected before the end of the month, with Yingluck’s chances of success rated as low. Last month, the case was before the Administrative Court, which said Yingluck’s removal of the council’s chief Thawil Pliensri three years ago was unlawful.

If the Constitutional Court finds her guilty of transferring a civil servant for personal benefit, in breach of the constitution, she and her cabinet, whose members also approved the transfer, could face dismissal.

Other parts of government are already out of action. The parliament is not sitting after elections this year failed to elect enough members, and the new senate is pending validation. If the court dismisses the premier and cabinet, it could create the political vacuum the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC),which has led months of protests, has been striving for since November.

The PDRC wants an appointed prime minister to rule with an interim cabinet for about a year while reforms are passed before an election is held.

But the current cabinet is not expected to leave quietly. “If the court steps across the boundary too much, do you think their decision will be respected?” said Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana, a former judge and justice minister.

He also said dismissal is not technically possible since “(T)he prime minister and all cabinet members have been out of our positions since Parliament was dissolved on December 9.”

“We cannot be ousted a second time,” he said. Others argue that 16 of the current caretaker ministers were not in office when Thawil was transferred, and so should not be implicated.With that much of the cabinet still in office, the caretaker administration could hang on until a general election.

Should the Constitutional Court sack the entire cabinet, it risks apolitical backlash.The court has a track record of judgement against the Yingluck government and her Pheu Thai Party, whose de facto leader is her brother, fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, living abroad since 2008 to avoid a two-year sentence for corruption.

Thaksin-led political parties have won every election in Thailand since 2001, with a focus on populist policies aimed at the less affluent.Pheu Thai and their street demonstration support movement the Red Shirts have said they will oppose any attempt to appoint an unelected premier.

“The Red Shirts and others will fight,” predicted caretaker Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng, a senior Pheu Thai member.

“It will be a big conflict, but probably not civil war. Thai people are not brave enough for that.”Some question whether Pheu Thai is even brave enough to ignore the court.”Going against the court would risk the whole system collapsing into anarchy or civil war, and I am not sure the Pheu Thai is up to that,”said Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University.

Barring the outbreak of civil war or unlikely prompt elections,anti-government forces are hoping to bring into play the constitution’s Article 7.

The article states, “Whenever no provision of this constitution is applicable to any case, it should be decided in accordance with the constitutional practice in the democratic regime of government with the King as head of state.

“The PDRC interprets the clause as meaning that in a political vacuum a prime minister can be appointed by “the people” with the endorsement of the king.

Who represents the people in such a case isan open question.The Constitutional Court has also been asked to rule on the correct process of finding a new premier in the event of Yingluck’s dismissal.”There is no article in the constitution that really describes what is about to happen,” said PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan. “It has never happened before.”

Yingluck and Suthep, the pair we most want to drench

Posted by Rattana_S On April - 13 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban are the female and male politicians people would most like to have a water fight with during Songkran, a Suan Dusit Poll has found.

The poll, conducted on 1,514 people from April 8-11, also found that the most popular places to celebrate Songkran were Khao San Road and Silom in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya and Chon Buri.

Well over half (67 per cent) said this Songkran would be as much fun as the previous year while 25 per cent expected it to be better.

When asked what male politician they would most like to have a water fight with, 46 per cent named Suthep, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee secretary-general, followed by Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (41 per cent) and former premier Thaksin Shinawatra (13 per cent).

In the female politician category, 75 per cent said Yingluck followed by Pavena Hongsakul (18 per cent) and Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan (7 per cent).

Asked if the political conflict would affect the Songkran Festival, 65 per cent of the respondents said it would, including affecting the general atmosphere, people’s mentality and feeling of safety as well as the economy, while 35 per cent said it would not.