Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

  • Defying UK, France to proceed with sale of warships to Russia

    Read more

  • Israel hits targets in Gaza despite diplomatic efforts for ceasefire

    Read more

  • Flight MH17 shot down ‘by mistake', US intelligence indicates

    Read more

  • US courts issue conflicting reports on Obamacare

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv over Israel-Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Thai opposition takes to street in new rally against PM

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-22

Tens of thousands of protesters marched through central Bangkok on Sunday, paralyzing traffic and clashing with police outside Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's residence in their latest mass rally against Thailand's government.

Yingluck has called a snap poll for Feb. 2 to try to ease tensions and renew her mandate, but demonstrators reject any election until the implementation of vague reforms ostensibly aimed at weakening the influence of the Shinawatra family.

The weeks-long political deadlock became more uncertain on Saturday when the opposition Democrat Party, Thailand’s oldest, announced it would boycott the election, saying the democratic system had failed the Thai people.

The boycott adds to concern that powerful forces allied with the opposition would try to scuttle an election that is otherwise likely to return Yingluck’s Puea Thai Party to power, and perpetuate the influence of her self-exiled brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Chanting “Yingluck, get out” and blowing whistles, thousands of protesters gathered at locations around the city and set up stages in at least four places, bringing traffic to a halt at three main intersections and in two commercial districts.

Hundreds surrounded Yingluck’s house, calling for her to step down. Yingluck is not in Bangkok currently, but visiting the northeast, her party’s stronghold.

‘Reform the system or create a new one’

The protest leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, a former Democrat heavyweight, wants a suspension of democracy and the installation of an appointed “people’s council”.

“I don’t know what Yingluck is thinking. But what I know for sure now is that all civil servants, the army, the police have realised all Thai people are rising up against the government,” Suthep told Blue Sky, an anti-government cable television station.

Suthep has earned a reputation for overstated rhetoric during incendiary nightly speeches, where he has told police and civil servants to report to him, promised to retire to the beach and issued deadlines to army leaders to meet him to discuss ousting Yingluck.

Yingluck and Thaksin remain hugely popular in the north and northeast, but Suthep’s movement is backed by a powerful minority: Bangkok’s middle class, bureaucrats, conservative elites and top military brass.

One of those supporters, 55-year-old Thangwhiwa Pintong, told FRANCE 24 that she was in favour of the protesters’ decision to refuse any election for the moment. “I think it’s good that they’re boycotting, so that we can reform the system or create a new one,” she said.

Meanwhile, Thaksin’s mainly working-class supporters see him as a benevolent billionaire committed to raising their living standards, but his enemies call him a crony capitalist who exploited the poor and abused his power by helping wealthy friends and family.

The protests enjoy big support from Bangkok, and though the size of the crowd often dwindles, Suthep has managed to mobilise more than 100,000 on some marches.

The Election Commission on Friday ruled out postponing the vote, having earlier said it was concerned the polls could be marred by violence.

The politicised military, which has staged 18 coups since 1932 -- some successful, some failed -- insists it is neutral, but many Thais suspect the generals, who removed Thaksin in a 2006 coup, are loyal to the anti-government camp.

The Democrats boycotted an election called during similar protests in 2006, when Thaksin tried to renew his mandate. His party won in a landslide, but the result was annulled on a technicality and he was later overthrown in a coup.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters and AP)
 

Date created : 2013-12-22

  • THAILAND

    Thai prime minister rejects opposition calls to resign

    Read more

  • THAILAND

    PM calls early elections as 100,000 march in Bangkok

    Read more

  • THAILAND

    Thai opposition to quit government

    Read more

COMMENT(S)