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Get Your Dukes Up

Source: AP There’s never a dull moment in Bangkok. As I recently reported, rumblings of a coup are gaining traction. The atmosphere in the city is becoming eerily similar to when Yellow Shirt demonstrations took hold in 2008. Protests, albeit of a small variety, are beginning to sporadically pop up. The main difference today is that the military, for the time being, is standing on the sidelines, unwilling to become involved. However, animosity between the two main political parties is at its highest levels since the 2009 crackdown on Red Shirt protesters which ultimately resulted in more than 90 deaths and the Thai capital being set ablaze. The main point of contention now is the return of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister who was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is the current Prime Minister, but it is widely believed that Thaksin, who lives in self-imposed exile after being convicted in absentia for corruption and graft, is  the man behind the curtains in the current administration. The ruling Pheu Thai Party which represents, in general terms, Thailand’s poor, rural majority, has been favoring an amnesty clause for several actors involved in the 2006 coup and resulting protests. This would, theoretically, absolved Thaksin of his convictions — which he has always maintained were politically motivated — and allow him to return to the country. This is anathema to the opposition Democrat Party, who are the party of big business in Bangkok and represent the capital’s elite class. They announced that they were leaving a reconciliation panel–set up by the Democrats after the 2009 crackdown–over the proposed amnesty clause. What followed was a near brawl in the Thai Parliament (see video above). This was not the first time witnesses have observed a scene like this either. Whether you consider this to be a sad development or an exciting development, it is perhaps unsurprising for this country more than anything; it is a state which has been defined by coups since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932. Is another one on the way? Only time will tell.

Thaksin’s sister to lead Thailand’s main opposition party for elections

Yingluck Shinawatra, youngest sister of Thailand’s fugitive ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, unanimously won the opposition Puea Thai Party nomination as top party-listed candidate vying for the country’s top job in the July 3 polls.
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Can election fix Thailand’s political deadlock ?

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has given his word: the nation, submerged in growing political uncertainty, will go to the polls in the first half of this year. The election is likely to be held in June. On 5 March, Abhisit’s Democrat Party released a policy statement promising to increase the minimum wage by 25 per cent over the next two years, provide education loans for 250,000 university students, issue more community land titles and establish a 2,500-strong taskforce to help suppress drug usage and trafficking.

Ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra to continue legal fight

Ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra said last night that he would continue his legal fight in Thailand “till the end” before taking his fight overseas to the International Court of Justice, referring to an appeal against Friday’s court verdict seizing part of his assets.