Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thai Parliment Seige

Thailand continues to have big political problems which are unfortunately turning violent. A coup should be expected in the next few weeks if this continues.

The People's Alliance for Democracy locked the government inside parliament and demanded Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat dissolve the House by sunset on Tuesday or face "decisive action". PAD protesters shot and seriously wounded two policemen during a violent rescue operation of MPs and senators held hostage for hours.

The 6pm (1100GMT) deadline passed without major incident, but the site of new protests around parliament was tense.
PAD gunmen shot three policemen near the parliament. Two were in criticial condition after being shot in the chest and the collarbone respectively. The third was shot in the leg. There were no arrests.

The shooting took place during a police operation to free more than 300 hostages held by the PAD inside parliament. Police fired tear gas and laid down smoke cannisters to obscure their dramatic rescue of Members of Parliament and Senators.

The PAD had earlier "allowed" government and parliament staff and media people to leave the parliament building, but held the MPs and senators.

Police then opted to fire smoke flare and tear gas at the PAD ranks in an attempt to open a pathway to release those who were still inside the building, otherwise unable to leave.

Prime Minister Somchai, after a meeting with senior military staff which supposedly centered on the border dispute with Cambodia, was completely tight-lipped on his future actions towards the PAD. He told a brief press conference that he would not quit, but that the government will "try to solve the problem."

An explosion believed to be a bomb ripped a Jeep and killed a woman near the protest.

PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul issued the 6pm deadline threat on a fast-moving Tuesday, after police tear-gassed PAD demonstrators in the morning - and PAD struck back by besieging the parliament and kidnapping virtually the entire government and most MPs and locking them inside parliament.

Police who cleared the way into parliament on Tuesday morning stood by and watched the demonstrators regain the offensive and put a tight ring around parliament buildings.
In addition to the cabinet and more than 300 MPs and senators, the PAD also held an unknown number of government and parliament staff and media representatives hostage, and cut off lights and water to the compound without police resistance.

Mr Sondhi did not clarify what "absolute measures" PAD might take on Tuesday evening. But thousands of supporters were said to be on their way to Bangkok from up-country locations.
Back at the Parliament, most of the MPs and senators were still trapped inside the building as of
Tuesday afternoon after the government delivered policy statement as PAD supporters blocked all the exits and entrances of the parliament.

House Speaker Chai Chidchob announced the closing of the joint session of the parliament at around 1pm after the government spent less than two hours to deliver its policy statement. The session was wrapped up quickly with little debate.

The opposition Democrat party once again boycotted politics, staying an arm's length from both the government and the protesters. Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said from the distant sidelines that he felt the government had no legitimacy to govern, but was unable to suggest what action it should take.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, accompanied by four to five followers, escaped the tight PAD siege on parliament by climbing ver a fence to the next-door Vimarnmak Palace, a royal site. Then, he got on board a police helicopter, which took him to the Armed Forces headquarters.

Mr Somchai was meeting late on Tuesday afternoon with chiefs of armed forces and supreme commander to discuss political turmoil.

No comments:

Post a Comment