Thousands of Protesters Call for New Elections in Thailand

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About 20,000 people swarmed the streets in Thailand Tuesday demanding the dissolution of the Thai parliament and called for the holding of new elections.

The protesters are allied with the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who is on a self-imposed exile. The street protest came three days before the scheduled annual summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Thailand is hosting this year’s summit.

Late last year, a similar street protest paralyzed two major airports in the Thai capital that stranded thousands of domestic and international passengers. The protest ended only when a Thai court ruled that the officials that ruled the present government were fraudulently elected. The court ruling effectively brought Abhisit Vejjajiva to power when the parliament voted for him to become Thai’s new Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Abhisit is one of the younger Thai politicians who was born and educated in England. Abhisit said he will not resort to violence. He said ‘I am ready to walk into government house as long as there are no weapons’.

Yahoo news: ‘The Tuesday protest was organized by the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship-commonly known as ‘red shirts’ because of their attire, which contrasts with the yellow shirts worn by their rivals, the self-styled People’s Alliance for Democracy who dominated last year’s protests. The DAAD is an eclectic mix of Thaksin loyalists, rural farmers and laborers, all of whom benefited from Thaksin’s policies that reach out to the poor.

Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon, remain popular among the rural majority for introducing social welfare plans, including virtually free medical care. He now lives in self-imposed exile after being forced from office in a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption and abuse of power, the report added.

It appears that the protesters are out to embarrass the Abhisit government before the leaders of the ASEAN which Thailand is hosting this year.

It was not known if the scheduled summit will be cancelled due to possible violence that may erupt as a result of the protest.

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