Wed, November 26, 2008
World > Asia-Pacific > Thailand political unrest

Bangkok in almost anarchy as confrontation upgrades

2008-11-25 15:27:49 GMT2008-11-25 23:27:49 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Anti-government protestors led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrate near the parliament complex in Bangkok, capital of Thailand, Nov. 24, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

An anti-government protester waves a Thai national flag during a rally at the new government offices in Bangkok's Don Mueang (Muang) airport November 24, 2008. Thousands of anti-government protesters blockaded Thailand's parliament on Monday, forcing it to postpone an important legislative session, the latest twist to a six-month campaign to unseat the elected administration. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Thailand's Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat reviews the honor guard at the government palace in Lima Nov. 24, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

BANGKOK, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- The "City of Angles" on Tuesday was in chaos as anti-government protesters seized the temporary administration seat -- Don Mueang airport, clashed with pro-government taxi drivers, forcing the Cabinet to indefinitely postpone its weekly meeting.

The anarchy turned violent when protesters led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on Tuesday evening clashed with a group of pro-government taxi drivers on Vibhavadi Road, leaving at least 11 injured. Two of the taxi drivers suffered gunshot wounds.

Initial investigation said one gun that made the shots was from the Government House in central Bangkok, where earlier reports said some weapons were missing since the PAD occupied the Government House from Aug. 26., according to a government spokesman.

Police has set up checkpoints around the capital to hunt down the shooter.

The Cabinet had to postpone its weekly Tuesday meeting after the PAD declared a seizure of the Don Mueang airport, now only for domestic and military use,

Amid the chaos, Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat reaffirmed that he would not resign nor dissolve the House of Representatives in face of the PAD's "undemocratic and unconstitutional" movement in attempt to topple his government, government spokesman Nattawut Saikua said Tuesday.

Somchai, brother-in-law of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, reiterated that his government was democratically elected and would not yield to any "undemocratic" pressure.

The anarchy started when the PAD on Monday led thousands of protesters to besiege Parliament to block a joint Senate-House session, in an attempt to prevent discussion of amendments to the Constitution 2007, which was drafted and promulgated by the coup-makers.

The PAD said the amendments would pave way for Thaksin and his allies' back to power.

The PAD also laid besiege on other state establishments before moving on to siege the temporary government seat at the Don Mueang Airport after the scheduled parliamentary meeting was called off for Monday.

Somchai was in Peru attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit when the PAD started the besiege on Monday. He was expected to fly back to Bangkok on Wednesday.

The PAD then moved on to announce that it will attempt to closedown Suvarnabhumi airport -- the new Bangkok international airport and one of Asia's busiest air hub, in an attempt to topple the government.

At 9:00 p.m (1400 GMT), airport authorities ordered the Suvarnabhumi airport to shut down its operation temporarily as the PAD protesters broke into the compound.

The government now still stick to non-violent means in dealing with PAD protesters though it threatened to sue the PAD for its damage to state agencies.

The PAD also pleaded the military for support but the top brass would not take sides.

Army Chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda, who was among the key figures in the Sept. 19, 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin, said that the meeting by the military top brass have agreed that the military would not stage a coup as it would not solve the country's problems.

Thaksin remained in self-exile after the coup. Thai Supreme Court sentenced him to two-year in jail for corruption charges last month, prompting the United Kingdom to revoke his visas for staying there. Thaksin then flied to Dubai and announced that he would return to politics to fight the injustice.

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