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Thousands of anti-government protesters from all directions on Monday continued their march to the Government House although Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has announced House dissolution.

Leaders of the protests, most of them were former Democrat MPs, said it was too late, the dissolution of the House was now meaningless as Yingluck government is still in the job as interim government.

They reiterated that setting up of ’people’s council’ is necessary to ensure that Thaksin Regime and its servants will not come back.

The protests from eight routes started at 9.39am and headed to the Government House. The main march from the Government Complex that is led by Suthep Thausuban left before the set time as it was the farthest compared to other routes.

The protesters at the Government Complex left the venue at 8.30am. None of protesters were left behind.

Some 50 vehicles joined the procession which had a convoy of motorcyclists in the front. Many people along the way joined the procession as it passed them.

Meanwhile Satit Wongnongtaey and Tavorn Senieum, protest leaders at the Democracy Monument, demanded the caretaker government to resign following House dissolution.

Satit told protesters that House dissolution was a first victory but was not enough for achieving real democracy and the protests would continue.

He said the People’s Democratic Reform Committee wanted the people’s council to be formed and the caretaker Cabinet to resign. Tavorn said the protesters wanted the caretaker government to resign.

Meanwhile hundreds of protesters whose rally site is near at the Government House arrived at the venue and started laying siege.

Yingluck who announced the House dissolution in the morning is at Royal Police Bureau headquarters on Pathumwan Road.

Thai PM calls snap election, protesters press on

Posted by Rattana_S On December - 9 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(Reuters) – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament on Monday and called a snap election, but anti-government protest leaders pressed ahead with mass demonstrations seeking to install an unelected body to run Thailand.

Protesters have been on the streets of the capital for weeks, clashing with police and vowing to oust Yingluck and eradicate the influence of her self-exiled brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The clashes petered out last week as the nation celebrated the revered king’s birthday, but political hostilities are set to resume in earnest.

The demonstrations are the latest eruption in nearly a decade of rivalry between forces aligned with the Bangkok-based establishment and those who support Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon who won huge support in the countryside with pro-poor policies.

“At this stage, when there are many people opposed to the government from many groups, the best way is to give back the power to the Thai people and hold an election. So the Thai people will decide,” Yingluck said in a televised address as thousands of protesters resumed demonstrations across Bangkok.

The leader of the anti-government movement, Suthep Thaugsuban, said he would not end his demonstrations and would continue a march to Yingluck’s offices at Government House.

“Today, we will continue our march to Government House. We have not yet reached our goal. The dissolving of parliament is not our aim,” Suthep, a former deputy prime minister under the previous military-backed government, told Reuters.

Police estimated as many as 50,000 people joined protests at different sites in Bangkok.

Yingluck’s Puea Thai Party won the last election in 2011 by a landslide, enjoying widespread support in the north and northeast, Thailand’s poorest regions. The Democrats have not won an election in more than two decades.

Suthep, aware that Yingluck would likely win an election if one were called, has been urging the setting-up of a “people’s council” of appointed “good people” to replace the government. Yingluck has dismissed the idea as unconstitutional and undemocratic.

Underscoring the divide, the pro-establishment opposition Democrat Party said on Sunday all of its members of the House of Representatives would give up their seats because they were unable to work with Yingluck’s ruling party.

Without the Democrats, the 500-member lower house will have 347 members.

“GOING NOWHERE”

Calling an election will not end Thailand’s political deadlock if the Democrats boycott it, says Pavin Chachavalpongpun of Kyoto University’s Centre for Southeast Asian Studies.

In 2006, amid mass protests, the Democrats refused to contest a snap election called by Thaksin, who was deposed by the military five months later.

“This is only a short-term solution because there is no guarantee that the Democrats will come back and play by the rules,” says Pavin. “We don’t know whether they will boycott the elections or not.”

“It seems like Thailand is going nowhere,” he said.

Suthep has told his supporters they have to take back power from what he calls the illegitimate “Thaksin regime” and that they cannot rely on the army to help.

The army, which ousted Thaksin in 2006, has said it does not want to get involved though it has tried to mediate.

Thaksin fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid a graft conviction but has remained closely involved with his sister’s government.

The protests were sparked last month by a government bid to introduce an amnesty that would have expunged his conviction.

(Additional reporting by Andrew R.C. Marshall; Writing by Jason Szep; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Yingluck says govt still open for talks

Posted by Rattana_S On December - 7 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told foreign media Saturday that she was still “open for talks” with the protest leader, Suthep Thaugsuban.

“I still leave all the doors open. And I am ready for talks with him,” she said.

Saturday, the PM gave interviews to Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Financial Times, and the Straits Times.

The government will, however, place all ministry offices under high alert Monday and they expect protesters to try to enter some of offices, including at Government House.

“It must end on December 9. If not enough protesters come out or if it doesn’t succeed, all co-leaders will surrender themselves and will to be prosecuted under insurrection and other charges,” Ekanat said.

“However, if a million [protesters] turn out as on November 24 then we are confident that there will definitely be change.

“If the government won’t listen to the people, the PDRC will not give the government a chance any longer. This is the last demonstration and it won’t be a picnic.”

Thailand will help with any Rohingya investigation: PM

Posted by Rattana_S On December - 7 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(Reuters) – Thailand will help the United Nations and the United States with any investigation into the findings of a Reuters report that Thai immigration officials moved Myanmar refugees into human-trafficking rings, the prime minister said on Saturday.

The United Nations and the United States called on Friday for an investigation into the report, published on Thursday and based on a two-month investigation in three countries, that revealed a clandestine policy to remove Rohingya refugees from Thai immigration detention centers and deliver them to human traffickers waiting at sea.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who chairs a government committee on human trafficking, declined to comment on the findings when asked about her reaction.

“I cannot comment on the Rohingya issue and reaction as this is the responsibility of the Foreign Ministry to handle,” she said in a comment to Reuters, delivered through an aide.

“The ministry will liaise with the United States and the U.N. to help with any investigation they need.”

The Rohingya are stateless Muslims from Myanmar, also known as Burma. Clashes between Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists exploded in Myanmar last year, making 140,000 people homeless, most of them Rohingya.

Since then, tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled from Myanmar by boat and many arrive off southwest Thailand.

After being delivered to human traffickers at sea, the Rohingya are transported across southern Thailand and held hostage in camps hidden near the border with Malaysia until relatives pay ransoms to release them, according to the Reuters report. Some are beaten and some are killed.

“These allegations need to be investigated urgently,” U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Vivian Tan said in a statement.

The United States issued a similar call hours later.

“We are aware of reports alleging that Thai officials have been involved in selling Rohingya migrants to human traffickers,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “We urge the Thai government to conduct a serious and transparent investigation into the matter.”

SANCTIONS RISK

Major General Chatchawal of the Royal Thai Police was quoted in the Reuters report as saying that there was an unofficial policy to deport the Rohingya to Myanmar.

He called this “a natural way or option two”. But he said the Rohingya signed statements in which they agree they want to return to Myanmar.

These statements, however, were at times produced in the absence of a Rohingya-language translator, Reuters found.

New York-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch criticized Thailand for moving detainees into established smuggling and trafficking rings, and warned Thailand could face a possible downgrade in a U.S. list of the world’s worst enforcers of human-trafficking laws.

Such a downgrade would place Thailand, a close U.S. ally and Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy, at risk of U.S. sanctions and put it on par with North Korea and Iran among the worst performers in fighting human trafficking.

The U.S. State Department is gathering information for its next Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report, due in June. Thailand faces an automatic downgrade to Tier 3, the lowest rank, unless it makes “significant efforts” to improve its record in combating trafficking, the State Department says. The Tier 3 designation could leave Thailand subject to U.S. sanctions.

Sek Wannamethee, a spokesman for Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, said earlier that the Rohingya issue was one of several the United States would take into consideration before deciding on Thailand’s grade.

Nine people have been arrested in Thailand in relation to Rohingya smuggling in 2013, including two government officials, according to police data. None of the arrests has led to convictions.

Thailand prosecuted 27 people for trafficking in 2012, down from 67 the previous year, according to the 2013 TIP Report by the U.S. State Department.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel and Ron Popeski)

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