Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 01 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Coverage of Gaza in the Israeli media

Read more

REPORTERS

1914-1918: The Depths of Hell

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 01 August 2014

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

Read more

#THE 51%

World War One: The war that changed women’s lives

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Ségolène Royal goes for green

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

A look back at some of the Observers' best stories

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

  • Hamas denies capturing Israeli soldier as Gaza truce lies in tatters

    Read more

  • Scores killed in China factory explosion

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

    Read more

  • Police 'chokehold' caused NYC death, coroner rules

    Read more

  • French most keen to erase their online footprint, says Google

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Rogue general denies Islamist seizure of Benghazi

    Read more

  • Ugandan court strikes down anti-gay legislation

    Read more

  • 1914-1918: The Depths of Hell

    Read more

  • Regional summit to tackle deadly Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • French hospital to open wine bar for terminally ill patients

    Read more

  • Video: Tipping is dying out in French café culture

    Read more

  • €2.5 million in cocaine ‘disappears’ from Paris police HQ

    Read more

  • Appeal court keeps French rogue trader Kerviel in jail

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Ukrainian army suffers losses in separatist attack

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Protesters free airport as Thai court bans PM

Video by Aurore Cloé DUPUIS

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2008-12-03

Thailand’s Constitutional Court found the ruling coalition guilty of vote fraud and banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from politics for five years. Protesters will allow flights to resume but travellers remain stranded until Dec. 15.

Read more on the origins and goals of the Thai protest movement

 

 

Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from politics for the next five years after finding the ruling coalition guilty of electoral fraud. The judges also dissolved Somchai’s People Power Party (PPP) and two other parties in the coalition.

Following the announcement, the protesters said they would allow flights to resume. But airport authorities said that the Suvarnabhumi international airport will remain closed at least until 15 December for passenger flights. The first cargo flights resumed on Tuesday.

Members of the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) celebrated their victory and could soon vacate Bangkok’s domestic and international airports. Blockaded for a week by the PAD, the closures have cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars and brought the tourist industry to a standstill. Some 250,000 tourists are waiting to leave the country.

FRANCE 24’s Nelson Rand reporting from Bangkok calls the situation “very volatile”. One protester of the PAD was killed and several injured by a grenade attack at the Don Muang domestic airport Monday night.

Pro-government supporters have also been on the streets for the last 48 hours, says Rand. They rallied outside the Constitutional Court on Tuesday morning and greeted the court’s decision with fury.

Government supporters, with a large base in the rural areas, “are convinced that the judicial system is against them”. They had surrounded the court building, forcing a shift in venue. There are now fears of protesters from both sides clashing.

Serirat Prasutanond, managing director of Airports of Thailand PCL (AOT), spoke of the “massive damage” caused to the country. He told Reuters that passenger flights would not restart until anti-government protesters had ended their siege.

‘A civil war’

The court decision follows months of political standoff in Thailand. The PPP won the December 2007 elections with the support of the rural poor, but the PAD accused Somchai of being a pawn for former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, his brother-in-law.

Thousands of middle-class citizens, businessmen and royalists from the PAD have been occupying Government House since August.

It is unsure what will happen next. The ruling coalition has vowed to retain power. Members of Parliament who are not party executives are technically not banned, and are in the process of switching over to a “shell party”.

“As long as the coalition sticks together, they will have enough numbers to simply vote in a new prime minister”, says Rand. This would be the third in a year.

“It now seems that violence cannot be avoided. Some even predict what has been unthinkable for 700 years: a civil war”, said the Bangkok Post in an editorial.

There is also the possibility of the Army taking over in a coup. “The army is under pressure to step in and do something”, said Rand. The army chief having said that if a coup could solve Thailand’s problems, he would do it. The country has had 18 coups since 1932.

Date created : 2008-12-02

COMMENT(S)