Posts Tagged ‘Abhisit takes a holy break’
Published: 31/12/2008 at 05:58 PM
Opponents of new Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday they would take a break for the five-day New Year holiday, then resume protests that already have forced the premier to move the venue of his first policy speech.
“We’ll have a small party tonight and disperse after midnight so that we can take time to celebrate the New Year festival,” said Veera Musikhaapong, a leader of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), known as the “red shirts”. “We will come back after the New Year break,” Shinawat Haboonpak, another UDD core leader said. “The fight is not over yet, we will not give up.”
The pledge raises the threat of 2009 starting with the kind of problems that marred 2008 – months of street protest, government gridlock and damage to the economy and national morale.
“Today is the last day of a year which brought great concern to everyone,” said Mr Abhisit in a New Year’s Eve address broadcast on radio and TV nationwide. “I’d like all those worries to pass with the year and let us start a new one with hope. “Let’s make our wish come true.”
Thousands of red-shirted supporters of fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra prepared to disperse from parliament, which they blockaded for two days to press their demands for Mr Abhisit to resign and call fresh elections.
They prevented Mr Abhisit from giving the government’s policy address in the Lower House on Tuesday, although he fooled the demonstrators by ducking into the Foreign Ministry to deliver the speech, as required by the Constitution.
Mr Abhisit, the 27th Thai prime minister since 1932 but the fourth in troubled 2008, came to power in mid-December after the Constitution Court banned previous premier Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin’s brother-in-law.
The court verdict reversed the political scene. Yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin protesters had occupied streets and even the two Bangkok airports as Mr Abhisit backed their demand for the government to resign and call elections.
Today, red-shirted pro-Thaksin protesters have occupied streets to back demands by the new Puea Thai iteration of the pro-Thaksin paqrty for Mr Abhisit to resign and call elections.
Mr Abhisit promised on Wednesday that the self-exiled Thaksin, ousted in the 2006 military coup to avoid a jail term for a corruption conviction, would get fair treatment if he decided to return home.
“The government will give Thaksin fairness,” Mr Abhisit told reporters. But he said Thaksin must recognise and submit to the justice system.
He said he accepted that protests by Thaksin loyalists may continue but added that if the government was successful then the “protests could not pressure us.”
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the government had plans to talk to opponents to seek a peaceful solution. But there is no sign the red shirts are any more likely to talk than their yellow-shirted predecessors were.
The red shirts say the Abhisit government is illegitimate and that the court verdict that dissolved the previous government was a silent coup. (With reports by AFP)