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Thailand PM Yingluck Shinawatra rules out early election

Posted by Rattana_S On November - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(BBC) Thai Prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ruled out an early election, following six days of protests aimed at removing her from office.

She told the BBC the situation in Thailand was not calm enough for polls.

She also said she would not authorise the use of force against protesters occupying government ministries.

She was speaking after demonstrators forced their way into the army headquarters in Bangkok and held a demonstration there.

Ms Yingluck has been prime minister since 2011, when her Pheu Thai party won a general election.

In an interview with the BBC’s Jonathan Head on Friday, she said that if she called a new election, she was not sure the protesters would be satisfied.

“I love this country. I devote myself to this country. I need only one thing for the country: we need to protect democracy,” she said.

She said the situation in Thailand was “very sensitive” and repeated her call for negotiations to resolve the crisis.

On Thursday, Ms Yingluck called for an end to the demonstrations after surviving a no-confidence vote.

However protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has rejected her appeal.

“We will not let them work anymore,” the former senior opposition lawmaker said in a speech late on Thursday.

On Friday at least 1,000 protesters forced their way into the army headquarters compound, but did not enter any buildings.

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher, who was at the scene, said protesters were massed on a lawn listening to speeches from leaders on a stage they had erected.

They urged the army to come out in support of the demonstrators. “We want to know which side the army stands on,” Reuters news agency quoted one protester as saying.

Our correspondent described the atmosphere as good natured and said the authorities appeared keen to avoid confrontation. The protesters later left peacefully.

Demonstrators have been surrounding and occupying official buildings this week in an attempt to disrupt the government.

During the demonstrations, which have been largely peaceful so far, participants have previously cut the electricity supply to the national police headquarters and forced the evacuation of Thailand’s top crime-fighting agency.

The protesters say Ms Yingluck’s government is controlled by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Thaksin, one of the most polarising characters in Thai politics, was ousted in a coup following protests in 2006. He now lives in self-imposed exile overseas, but remains popular with many rural voters.

The protesters tend to be urban and middle class voters.

Ms Yingluck has invoked special powers allowing curfews and road closures, and police have also ordered the arrest of Mr Suthep – but so far no move has been made to detain him.

An estimated 100,000 opposition supporters protested in Bangkok on Sunday, although the numbers appear to have dropped significantly during the week.

The country is facing its largest protests since 2010, when thousands of “red-shirt” Thaksin supporters occupied key parts of the capital. More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month sit-in.

The proposed passage of a controversial political amnesty bill, which critics said would have facilitated the return of Thaksin without having to serve jail, reignited simmering political tensions.

The Senate rejected the bill, which sought to cover offences committed during the upheaval after Thaksin was removed from office.

Ms Yingluck said she accepted the vote and would not resubmit the legislation.

Thailand protesters target ruling party headquarters

Posted by Rattana_S On November - 29 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Thai protesters are set to march on the ruling party headquarters, as anti-government rallies enter day six.

Demonstrators surrounded and occupied official buildings this week in an attempt to shut down the government.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urged demonstrators to end the street protests, after surviving a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Security was tightened around the Pheu Thai party headquarters on Friday, according to reports.

“We are deploying two companies of police [around 300 officers] at Pheu Thai party headquarters after they asked for protection,” deputy national police chief Worapong Siewpreecha told AFP news agency.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former opposition politician, has rejected the government’s offer of talks and vowed to force the government to step down.

“We will not let them work anymore,” he said in a speech late on Thursday.

‘No political games’

During the demonstrations, which have been largely peaceful so far, participants have cut the electricity supply to the national police headquarters and forced the evacuation of Thailand’s top crime-fighting agency.

The protesters say Ms Yingluck’s government is controlled by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Ms Yingluck has invoked special powers allowing curfews and road closures, and police have also ordered the arrest of Mr Suthep – but so far no move has been made to detain him.

In a televised address on Thursday, Ms Yingluck said the protesters should negotiate with the government.

“The government doesn’t want to enter into any political games because we believe it will cause the economy to deteriorate,” she said.

An estimated 100,000 opposition supporters protested in Bangkok on Sunday, although the numbers appear to have dropped significantly during the week.

Some reports expect turnout to rise again over the weekend.

The country is facing its largest protests since 2010, when thousands of “red-shirt” Thaksin supporters occupied key parts of the capital. More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month sit-in.

Thai protesters force evacuation of top crime agency

Posted by Rattana_S On November - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Anti-government protesters have forced the evacuation of Thailand’s top crime-fighting agency, on the fourth day of street demonstrations.

The marchers, who want the government to step down, targeted a complex of government offices outside the city.

The protest leader said they wanted to shut down government ministries in a bid to cause disruption.

They accuse the government of being controlled by the prime minister’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra.

The BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Bangkok says the mood of the protesters is very friendly, as they and the government side shadow-box around each other.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s secretary general, Suranand Vejjajiva, told the BBC that there were no plans to use the army.

“We are reassured that the police can handle the situation as the protesters are peaceful and do not create any violence,” he said.

‘Seize city hall’

The protests are being led by former opposition Democrat Party lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban, for whom police have issued an arrest warrant.

They began on Sunday and so far have targeted the finance, foreign and interior ministries, among others.

“Let the people go to every ministry that remains to make civil servants stop serving the Thaksin regime,” the Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

“Once you take over, civil servants can no longer serve the Thaksin regime. Brothers and sisters, go seize the city hall.”

Despite the arrest warrant, police made no attempt to detain him as he led protesters to government offices.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of protesters surrounded the Department of Special Investigations (DSI), which is Thailand’s equivalent of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The DSI is a particular target for the demonstrators – they accuse its chief of conducting partisan investigations against opponents of the government, says the BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok.

The DSI chief ordered his staff to leave as protesters surrounded the building, Reuters news agency said.

However, Mr Suranand said that the government house itself was secure and the government still functioning.

Government supporters were organising their own demonstrations around the country, he added.

Ms Yingluck – who on Monday invoked special powers allowing officials to impose curfews – said that the government would not use force against protesters.

“This is not the ‘Thaksin regime’, this is a democratically elected government,” she told media outside parliament.

The demonstrations are the biggest to hit Thailand since the violence in early 2010, when supporters of Mr Thaksin paralysed key parts of Bangkok.

More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month action.

In the wake of those events, a government led by Ms Yingluck and the Pheu Thai party was elected, mostly by rural voters who benefited from Mr Thaksin’s policies.

But many urban and middle class voters are bitterly opposed to him.

They say he controls the current government from self-imposed overseas exile.

They have been angered by now-shelved political amnesty legislation that they say could have allowed his return without serving a jail sentence for corruption.

Until now, the government and the police have chosen not to confront the protesters, in the hope that the movement will run out of steam, our correspondent adds.

That is not happening yet, and protest leaders insist they will not stop until the government is forced from office and replaced by what they call a People’s Council.

But a more likely scenario would be a fresh general election – and the governing party, which has won the last five, would probably win again, our correspondent adds.

Busy week ahead for Yingluck

Posted by Rattana_S On October - 5 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

After meeting Chilean President Sebastian Pinera at Government House yesterday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will meet visiting Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Tasso today to discuss a Thai-Peru free-trade agreement, Government Spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said.

Tomorrow, Yingluck will fly to Bali to attend the 21st Apec Summit, where she will get to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Yingluck will also meet the prime minister of Papua New Guinea and the chief executive of Hong Kong.

Then on Tuesday, she is scheduled to fly to Brunei to attend the 23rd ASEAN Summit, which will be held on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will come to Thailand to attend the opening ceremony of an exhibition on high-speed trains on Saturday. Then on Sunday, October 13, Yingluck will accompany Li to a One Tambon One Product (Otop) centre in her home town – Chiang Mai’s San Kamphaeng district.

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