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Army steps in amid rumours of military coup

Latest update : 2008-10-07

The Thai army moved to the streets of Bangkok on Tuesday following violent clashes between opposition supporters and police forces. Rumours of yet another military coup in the country circulate amidst the people.

Also read:  Protesters issue ultimatum after clashes with police

 

Amid rumours of a coup d’Etat, Thailand’s military was deployed on the streets of Bangkok on Tuesday in order to re-establish order after police and members of the opposition were involved in violent clashes.

 

Men in uniform were stationed around public buildings and on the streets. They were urgently called in to patrol “without arms” alongside the police, according to Thai army spokesman Sunsern Kaemkumnerd.

 

Their deployment was decided by the authorities after tensions grew on Tuesday morning. Some 5,000 protesters gathered before the parliament building under the banner of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) – a coalition of businessmen, university scholars and activists.

 

“Fresh fighting broke out inside the police headquarters where demonstrators clashed with police forces”, said Cyril Payen, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Thailand.

 

The gathering soon turned violent as police clashed with PAD supporters. Some 200 people were injured and one person was reported to be killed in an explosion caused by a car bomb. Payen reported gunshots from both sides.

 

In a country marked by drastic changes of regime, military deployment on Bangkok’s streets gave rise to speculation. Rumours of a military coup were circulating, but were later denied by a military spokesman.

 

In 2006, Thailand was shaken by a non-violent military coup that led to the fall of Thaksin Shinawatra, the country’s prime minister at the time.

 
The PPP, Thaksin’s allies
 

The PAD gave an ulimatum to new PM Somchai Wongsawat, pressuring him to resign. This led to the resignation of the deputy PM Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who was in charge of mediating with the protesters.

 

The police offensive against the demonstrators was severely criticised throughout the country. “The government broke the frontiers of decency by ignoring peaceful methods,” jurist and human rights lawyer Somchai Homaor told a Thai daily.

 

PAD leaders are protesting against an amendment proposed by the ruling party PPP. According to the opposition, the amendment is designed to protect former PM Thaksin from facing corruption charges.

 

Thaksin Shinawatra, whose brother-in-law is the current prime minister, has several allies in the ruling party.

Date created : 2008-10-07

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