Friday, April 24, 2009

Latest developments in Thailand

The Prime Minister has withdrawn the decree imposing emergency rule, agreed to an independent inquiry into the clashes and called for constitutional reforms to heal the deep political rift; Red shirts plan a protest in Bangkok tonight; Detained red shirt leaders have been freed on bail; Thaksin is in Liberia.

"The lifting of the decree will send a signal to the world that Thailand is back to normal," the Prime Minister said.

"We will demand Abhisit's resignation, a dissolution of the House and the scrapping of all arrest warrants against the red shirts," said Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, a leader of the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

Meanwhile, police are hunting for others blamed for Thailand's worst street violence in 16 years, as well as gunmen who attempted to assassinate the leader of a royalist, pro-government group.

In the post below, you will note that forensics analysis has traced the M-16 bullets fired in the 17 April 2009 assassination attempt of Sondhi Limthongkul, to the Thai First Army’s Ninth Infantry division. Could we see the police pitted against the army? Let's not forget, Thaksin is a former policeman.

Although Thai officials revoked Thaksin's passport after the latest violence in Bangkok, he has obtained, no less than a diplomatic passport from Nicaragua. Thaksin is in Liberia on a search for investment opportunities in mining, agriculture and gas.

Where Thailand goes from here, is anyone's guess. It is hoped that cool heads prevail. Given the deep and bitter divide between the parties and the long-running history of political instability, that seems very unlikely.

All eyes will be on the streets of Bangkok tonight, to see if the Red shirts do protest and if they do, what is the reaction by the police and the army. Stay tuned.

If ever there was a need for understanding, now is the time and Thailand is the place.

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