Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Airport Closed

I believe (and I may be wrong) that the King has TOLD the Army not to Coup. I wonder at what point he'll have a talk with the Government and PAD. Hopefully soon.

Army helpless

The government on Wednesday rejected a "suggestion" by army chief Anupong Paojinda for the prime minister to resign, and the protesters who seized and closed Suvarnabhumi airport on Wednesday similarly declined the general's demand to leave the airport.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, meanwhile, returned to Thailand without incident through Chiang Mai airport. He spend the past week out of the country to attend the Apec summit in Peru, and the PAD was trying to block his return.

"The prime minister should dissolve parliament and call a snap election," Gen Anupong said. "The prime minister should think about the benefit of the country, and so should the PAD," he said.

But he tempered the demand, just as he did a month ago when he also told Prime Minister Somchai Wongbsawat to step down.

"We will not seize power from the government," said the army commander. "We are just making a suggestion and will let the government decide.

In that case, said spokesman Nattawut Saikuar, the government will stay on.

He spoke by telephone to Channel 3 news and said, "The prime minister has said many times that he will not quit or dissolve parliament because he has been democratically elected. That still stands,"

The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) gave an equally dismissive shrug to Gen Anupong's demand that they call back their protesters and reopen Suvarnabhumi.

Mr Somchai must resign, PAD leader told cheering supporters inside the airport terminal.

The government "must quit first before we sit down and talk," he said.

PAD ideologue Suriyasai Katasila said flatly that the group would stay at the airport until it could discuss the matter among members, and rejected the general's demand.

Gen Anupong's strong stance against a coup gave him no leverage in trying to handle the situation, and he has time after time been reduced to little more than another helpless spectator.

Late last month, he attempted to intimidate Mr Somchai into quitting by appearing with other service commanders, the supreme commander and the national police chief on an evening TV news programme, but Mr Somchai simply ignored the demands to quit.

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