Bangkok Crisis: Red Shirts Offer Compromise Military Backs Off
In the aftermath of the bloody grenade explosions Friday in downtown Bangkok, the Red Shirts are offering a compromise. Weng Tojirakarn, Red Shirt leader, demanded that the government in power stop the threats against them. The Red Shirts have stated that they would accept a 30 day delay in dissolving the present parliament which they deem illigitimate.
April 10 saw a violent confrontation between the Red Shirt demonstrators and government forces in which 75 people were killed and hundreds injured. The death toll Friday night was one more deat and 80 injured.
It is not clear that the Thai military will move against the Red Shirt demonstrators again.
The new demands came shortly after Army Chief Anupong Paochinda told a meeting of his commanders there would be no crackdown on the protesters camped out in the capital because it would do more harm than good.
The Red Shirt faction is disputing the legitimacy of the Democrat Party's hold on power, claiming that it was the result of a military coup. Credence has been lent to their claims by the recent call by the Thai Election Commission to dissolve the Democrat Party due to irregularities.
The Thai democracy has undergone much turmoil in the past few years. The former government headed by Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted when Mr. Thaksin was sentenced to two years in prison for misuse of power. He remains in exile.
The volatile political situation in Thailand has forced four upscale hotels in the heart of Bangkok to close. Travellers are being warned by their governments to exercise extreme caution when venturing into the areas affected by political strife.
OFFICIAL WARNING: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to Central Bangkok's commercial district due to ongoing large scale political demonstrations and the significant risk of violent clashes and further unrest. Specifically this includes the areas around the Ratchaprasong intersection, Ratchadamri Road, Silom Road, Siam Square, and the area between Ploenchit and Wireless Road. The Embassy of Canada is located in this affected area near the intersection of Silom and Ratchadamri roads. A State of Emergency remains in effect.