Thailand’s neighbors are watching the political unrest in Bangkok with growing concern. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has said the protests there could spread economic and political instability throughout the region.
ASEAN has called on the Thai government and the anti-government demonstrators to exercise restraint and to seek a settlement through dialogue and reconciliation. The foreign ministers of Singapore and Indonesia have made similar statements.
The immediate crisis had been escalating since mid-March 2010, when tens of thousands of members of the increasingly heterogeneous UDD began their takeover of the streets of Bangkok. The red-bedecked activists from all over Thailand carried their tents, sleeping-mats and food supplies into the area around the high-rent shopping-district of the Rajprasong intersection. The red-shirts’ political representatives held intermittent talks with the government of Thailand’s prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva; but these broke down in the first days of April, and the protestors then vowed to stay in place until the parliament was dissolved and new elections announced.