Thousands of Thai Protesters Seek Overhaul of Democratic System
The prime minister of Thailand, Samak Sundaravej, called a state of emergency in Bangkok as thousands of protesters gathered at the capitol.
While most of the anger goes towards what the protesters call a broken 'western-style' electoral democracy, where they claim it is filled with corruption due to bribery and corporate interests, there are also those who see the prime minister as being too close to their former premier in exile in the UK.
Even as he was calling for a state of emergency, the PM stated he would not be allowing police to have guns, saying they would quell the sometimes-violent protests with batons, shields, tear gas and water cannons.
For a week, a thousand Thai protesters in yellow shirts, many clutching portraits of their beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, have camped out on the once-manicured lawn of Government House in Bangkok, demanding the resignation of the country’s elected government.
Armed with golf clubs and sticks – and shielded by makeshift barricades of tyre and razor wires electrified by batteries, members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have resisted a court injunction ordering them to leave the grounds, half-hearted police efforts to evict them, and, as of Tuesday, a state of emergency banning gatherings of more than five people.
Thai soldiers would not use force to evict protesters occupying the prime minister's office, army chief Anupong Paochinda said on Tuesday despite a state of emergency giving him the power to do so.
"If we thought we could use police and soldiers to get them out with a peaceful conclusion, we would do it. But we think that that would create more problems," he told reporters after a man died in clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters.
Thailand's prime minister has declared a state of emergency in the capital, Bangkok, after violent street clashes between supporters and opponents of the government.
There's a helpful timeline of events that led up to these protests here;
Key dates in the long-running political crisis in Thailand:
_September 2006: Military stages bloodless coup to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra following months of anti-government protests by the People's Alliance for Democracy.