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Politics of Thailand
Thailand’s ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra has received approval to travel abroad for the first time since the military coup.
A military spokesman said the request had been approved because Yingluck Shinawatra had “kept a low profile” since her government was overthrown on May 22.
Reports suggest Yingluck Shinawatra will travel to France for the birthday of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted ahead of the military coup by Thailand’s Constitutional Court
The military seized power after months of anti-government protests in Bangkok.
Thaksin Shianwatra, who turns 65 on July 26, was ousted in a coup in 2006.
He was removed by the military, kicking off a cycle of political instability in Thailand. Convicted of corruption by a Thai court, he has been living in self-imposed exile overseas.
Yingluck Shianwatra had asked to travel to Europe from July 20 to August 10, the military said.
They agreed because she had not “violated any orders of the NCPO [military junta] or any agreements, being the ban from politics or the ban on overseas travels” and had “given good co-operation all along”, spokesman Col. Winthai Suvaree told a press conference.
At least 28 people died in the anti-government protests that brought Yingluck Shinawatra’s government down.
Yingluck Shinawatra herself was ousted ahead of the coup by a Constitutional Court ruling that said she had illegally transferred her national security head. She is currently facing charges linked to a controversial government rice subsidy scheme.
The Thai army announces it has now released 124 people, including politicians and activists, who were taken into custody after the coup.
A military spokesman said a total of 253 people had been summoned. Fifty-three did not report and 76 were in custody.
Conditions for the release appear to include agreeing to avoid political activity and informing the army of travel.
Coup leaders, who took power last week, received royal endorsement on Monday.
Thailand’s former PM Yingluck Shinawatra has been released but remains under some restrictions.
Yingluck Shinawatra has been released by Thailand’s army but remains under some restrictions (photo Reuters)
Aside from politicians and activists, academics have also been detained.
Thailand’s army seized power on May 22, saying it wanted to return stability to the country after months of unrest.
Leaders of the anti-government movement have been released from custody but representatives of those who support the government remain in detention.
Correspondents say there is also a degree of skepticism about the total number of people in custody, with reports of more widespread detentions.
Rights groups have expressed alarm over the detentions, as well as the tight restrictions on media.
Television stations on Wednesday aired footage from the military showing five detainees, including pro-government “red-shirt” leader Jatuporn Prompan, at an unidentified location, in an apparent move to show they were being treated well.
Experts have said that the coup is unlikely to heal highly polarized political divisions in the country.
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Thai army has detained former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng who emerged from hiding to criticize last week’s coup.
Shortly before he was held, Chaturon Chaisaeng said he believed the coup would be a disaster for Thailand.
However, Chaturon Chaisaeng said he had no intention of going underground or mobilizing resistance.
Thai army has detained former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng who emerged from hiding to criticize last week’s coup
On Monday the coup leaders consolidated their legal hold on the country after receiving the endorsement of the king.
The military seized power in Thailand last week, saying it planned to return stability to the country after months of unrest.
The move followed six months of political deadlock as protesters tried to oust the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. At least 28 people were killed and several hundred injured over the course of the protests.
However, the Thai coup – which removed an elected government – has drawn widespread international criticism.
Chaturon Chaisaeng is one of more than 100 opposition figures, academics and activists summoned to report to the military after the coup.
Many of those who have chosen, unlike Chaturon Chaisaeng, to report voluntarily are still in military custody.
Chaturon Chaisaeng was detained in front of journalists at Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club where he had emerged from five days of hiding to give a press briefing.
Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra was among those taken into custody after the coup but a military spokesman told AFP news agency she had now been released.
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Ousted Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra and a number of family members and politicians have been detained, as leaders of Thursday’s military coup tightened their grip on power.
Yingluck Shinawatra and scores of politicians from the deposed government had earlier been ordered to report to the military.
She was kept for several hours and then driven to an undisclosed location.
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha also met key officials, telling them reform must come before any elections.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha summoned governors, business leaders and civil servants to the Bangkok Army Club on Friday.
Ousted Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra and a number of family members and politicians have been detained, as leaders of Thursday’s military coup tightened their grip on power (photo Reuters)
Six of Thailand’s most senior military officers have now been appointed to run the country, with provincial commanders supervising local government.
Prayuth Chan-ocha told the meeting: “I want all civil servants to help organize the country. We must have economic, social and political reforms before elections. If the situation is peaceful, we are ready to return power to the people.”
The general said the coup was necessary to “quickly bring the situation back to normal”.
One local official leaving the meeting, Arkom Theerasak, told Associated Press: “There will be an election but it will take a while. The general didn’t say when.”
Yingluck Shinawatra, who had been prime minister until being removed by the judiciary this month, had been ordered to report to the military along with more than 100 other politicians, including acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan.
It was unclear whether Prayuth Chan-ocha met either of them.
Some 155 politicians have been barred from leaving the country.
Reuters quoted a military officer as saying Yingluck Shinawatra, her sister and brother-in-law had been held.
Thai military spokesman Col. Werachon Sukhondhadhpatipak said those detained were all involved in Thailand’s political “conflict” and he stressed the army was neutral and impartial in those that it had held.
Col. Werachon Sukhondhadhpatipak said the detentions should be not be longer than a week and were intended to keep the detainees away from “tension”.
On Thursday the military suspended the constitution and banned political gatherings, saying order was needed after months of turmoil.
The US led widespread international criticism of the coup, saying there was “no justification”.
Thailand’s armed forces have staged at least 12 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.
There has been a power struggle since Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as PM in 2006.
Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra have strong support in rural areas but are opposed by many in the middle class and urban elite.
The latest unrest began last year, when anti-government protesters embarked on a campaign to oust Yingluck Shinawatra. An election was held in February but was disrupted and later annulled by the judiciary.
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Three people died and more than 20 others have been injured in an attack on an anti-government protest camp in Bangkok, Thai officials say.
Witnesses reported explosions and gunfire early on Thursday at a protest camp at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument.
Protesters have been pressing the Senate to replace the cabinet with an appointed administration.
Witnesses reported explosions and gunfire early on Thursday at a protest camp at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument
Later on Thursday, they forced a meeting between the government and the Election Commission to be abandoned.
The government is trying to organize a new general election in July, after protesters disrupted the previous election in parts of the country.
A crowd led by Suthep Thaugsuban, head of the anti-government movement, broke into the Air Force base where the meeting between acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan and the commission was being held.
“The meeting is over, the prime minister is leaving. We cannot continue today,” a member of the commission was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
The Election Commission on Thursday has called for polls to be postponed due to the political unrest, AFP news agency says, citing officials.
The attack on protesters comes days after former PM Yingluck Shinawatra was removed by a Thai court.
Reports said grenades were thrown in the latest attack in the early hours of Thursday, followed by gunfire. A doctor at an emergency centre in Bangkok said the wounded had been hit by shrapnel.
Police identified two of the victims as a protester who was asleep and a protest guard who was shot.
There have been a number of attacks on the protest movement since it began its street campaign against the government last year.
No group has said it carried out the attack but both pro- and anti-government groups are known to have armed hardliners.
Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra’s government are gathering in western Bangkok for what they are calling a rally in support of Thailand’s democracy.
Earlier this week, a court ordered PM Yingluck Shinawatra and nine ministers to step down.
Thousands of police are on standby as opposition protesters are also planning a march in the capital.
Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra’s government are gathering in western Bangkok for what they are calling a rally in support of Thailand’s democracy (photo AP)
Yingluck Shianwatra’s removal came after six months of protests which have unnerved investors and reduced tourist numbers.
Thailand has faced a power struggle since 2006, when Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted as prime minister by a military coup, accused of corruption and abuse of power.
Their Pheu Thai party has a strong base of support with rural voters. Its supporters are known colloquially as “red shirts”.
Opposition supporters – dubbed “yellow shirts” – tend to be urban and middle class. They have been protesting against Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration for six months, occupying official buildings and disrupting elections in February.
Yingluck Shinawatra was ordered to step down on Wednesday over the illegal transfer of her security chief. Another court has indicted her for negligence.
A caretaker government led by Thaksin Shianwatra loyalist Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan is running the country and says it is working towards a July 20 election.
The opposition says it will not contest the polls and that political reforms must be introduced first.
On Friday, a rally of “yellow shirts” ended with police firing tear gas and water cannon. At least five demonstrators were injured.
At least 25 people have died over the course of the protests in Thailand.
Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled that PM Yingluck Shinawatra must step down over abuse of power charges.
The court ruled that Yingluck Shinawatra acted illegally when she transferred her national security head.
It has also ruled that some cabinet ministers involved in the transfer must also step down.
The ruling follows months of political deadlock. Anti-government protesters have been trying to oust Yingluck Shinawatra since November 2013.
Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled that PM Yingluck Shinawatra must step down over abuse of power charges (photo Reuters)
The move is likely to trigger protests by supporters of the government, which remains very popular in rural areas.
PM Yingluck Shinawatra had been accused of improperly transferring Thawil Pliensri, her national security chief appointed by the opposition-led administration, in 2011.
Appearing court on Tuesday, she had rejected the suggestion that Yingluck Shinawatra’s party had benefited from the move – but the court ruled against her.
“The prime minister’s status has ended, Yingluck can no longer stay in her position acting as caretaker prime minister,” a judge said in a statement.
It is not yet clear whether one of Yingluck Shinawatra’s ministers can step in or whether Thailand now faces a political vacuum.
Anti-government protests began in the Thai capital late last year, with demonstrators blockading several parts of the city.
In response, Yingluck Shinawatra called a snap general election in February that her party was widely expected to win. But the protesters disrupted the polls and the election was later annulled.
Her supporters believe that the courts are biased against her and side with the urban elite at the heart of the protest movement.
Thailand has faced a power struggle since Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as prime minister in a 2006 coup.
Thaksin Shinawatra and his family are hated by the urban and middle-class elite who accuse them of corruption and abuse of power.
Thailand’s anti-government protesters have resumed demonstrations in Bangkok demanding the resignation of PM Yingluck Shinawatra.
Large crowds carrying Thai flags marched along several routes from the main park in Bangkok.
It was the first major protest rally to take place since a Thai court ruled the February 2 general election invalid.
Until recently, Thailand had seen an ease in tensions since anti-government demonstrations began four months ago.
Anti-government activists want PM Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and the political system to be reformed.
At the height of the demonstrations, which began in November, protesters shut down key road junctions in Bangkok and blockaded government ministries.
Thailand’s anti-government activists want PM Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and the political system to be reformed
Saturday’s demonstrators, led by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, marched from Bangkok’s Lumpini Park along six different routes through the city centre.
”We want to tell the government that the people don’t accept them anymore and the people really want reform of the country immediately,” Suthep Thaugsuban told reporters.
Suthep Thaugsuban warned the authorities against attempting to organize a re-run of the elections, saying any future poll would be boycotted.
The march comes a week after Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled the February 2 general election invalid.
Yingluck Shinawatra’s ruling party was expected to win the poll, but the opposition boycotted it and protesters disrupted voting, meaning the election has not been completed.
The protesters, who are mainly urban and middle class, want Yingluck Shinawatra’s government replaced by an unelected “people’s council”.
They accuse the Thai government of being run by PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother and ousted former leader, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck Shinawatra, who has dismissed calls to step down, is currently facing charges of negligence over a government rice subsidy scheme, which critics say was rife with corruption.
She is expected to submit her defense to the National Anti-Corruption Commission on Monday.
If found guilty, Yingluck Shinawatra could be removed from office and faces a five-year ban from politics.
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Thailand’s February 2 general election has been declared invalid by the country’s Constitutional Court.
The snap poll was called by PM Yingluck Shinawatra amid major anti-government protests in Bangkok.
The ruling party was expected to win, but the opposition boycotted it and protesters disrupted voting, meaning the election has not been completed.
The vote was unconstitutional because it did not take place on the same day across the country, the court said.
Polls were not held in a number of constituencies because protesters had blocked candidate registration.
Thailand’s February 2 general election has been declared invalid by the country’s Constitutional Court (photo AP)
Thailand’s Constitutional Court, which ruled to void the election by six votes to three, was responding to a motion by a law lecturer who had challenged the election on a number of points.
It is not clear when a new election will be held.
Thailand has been hit by anti-government protests since November 2013.
The protesters, who are mainly urban and middle class, want Yingluck Shinawatra’s government replaced by an unelected “people’s council”.
They allege her brother, ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, controls her administration and say Shinawatra family money has corrupted Thai politics.
Yingluck Shinawatra and her ruling Pheu Thai party remain very popular in rural areas, however, leaving Thailand deeply polarized.
Thai voting has begun in five provinces that were unable to hold polls in last month’s general election because of anti-government protests.
No disturbances have so far been reported in Sunday’s ballot.
But the election commission said the situation was still too tense in many areas for polls to re-open.
Thailand has been in a political crisis since mass rallies began in November, with protesters calling for PM Yingluck Shinawatra to resign.
They want her government to be replaced by an unelected “people’s council” to reform the political system.
The opposition alleges that money politics have corrupted Thailand’s democracy and that Yingluck Shinawatra is controlled by her brother, ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile.
Yingluck Shinawatra leads a government that won elections in 2011 with broad support from rural areas
Protesters marched through Bangkok on Sunday, but there were no signs of voters being prevented from attending polling stations, as had been the case in early February.
“The polls are going peacefully – everything is under control and there are no problems,” a spokesman for the election commissioner said on Sunday.
However, the ballot will still leave too many parliamentary seats unfilled for a new government to be elected.
PM Yingluck Shinawatra is therefore stuck in a caretaker role, giving her cabinet very limited powers to govern.
On Friday, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban announced that demonstrators would end their occupation of central Bangkok in what was seen as a first sign of flexibility from the prime minister’s opponents.
Talks are also planned next week between representatives from both sides.
Yingluck Shinawatra leads a government that won elections in 2011 with broad support from rural areas. In response to the protests, she called snap elections on February 2, which her government was widely expected to win.
Thailand’s polls were boycotted by the opposition, and voting was disrupted by protesters at around 10% of polling stations.
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The death toll from a blast in Bangkok rose to three on Monday.
On Sunday, an apparent grenade blast near an anti-government protest site killed a woman and a four-year-old boy.
Doctors said on Monday that the little boy’s sister died later of brain injuries.
Twenty-two people were hurt in Sunday’s blast, including a nine-year-old boy who is in intensive care.
An apparent grenade blast near anti-government protest site killing a woman and a 4-year-old boy
Sunday’s attack came hours after gunmen opened fire on an anti-government rally in eastern Thailand, killing a five-year-old girl.
Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has condemned the attacks, describing them as “terrorist acts for political gain”.
UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon has also spoken out, calling for violence “from any quarter” to end immediately.
Meanwhile, the Thai army chief says the military will not intervene with force in the country’s crisis.
Thailand’s political crisis has become increasingly violent since mass protests began in November.
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Thai government said it would ask the army to provide security for February’s elections, as the military called for restraint on both sides.
Thailand is facing increasingly violent protests, with two killed and dozens injured in recent days.
On Thursday, the Electoral Commission said the polls should be postponed to ensure the safety of candidates.
However, government officials said parliament was already dissolved so there was no legal reason for a delay.
Fighting broke out on Thursday at a stadium where election candidates were being registered.
A group of protesters, some throwing stones and evidently some who were armed, tried to break into the stadium.
One police officer and one protester were killed in the clashes.
Thailand is facing increasingly violent protests, with two killed and dozens injured in recent days
Deputy PM Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the government would ask the army to help secure candidate registrations on Saturday.
“I will also ask the military to provide security protection for members of the public on the 2 February elections,” he added in a televised address.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha did not address the government’s request.
Instead, he urged restraint on both sides and an end to street violence and said the army had shown “red traffic lights to both sides so things will calm down”.
When asked if the army would intervene, Prayuth Chan-ocha said: “That door is neither open nor closed.”
The army, which mounted a successful coup only seven years ago, remains a powerful player in Thai politics.
The army has staged several coups in the past, and ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who is also brother to current premier Yingluck Shinawatra, in 2006.
Yingluck Shinawatra called the snap election earlier this month, following weeks of protests.
However, the opposition Democrat party is boycotting the polls.
Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party won the last election in 2011 and has a big majority in parliament.
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Clashes broke out in Bangkok between rival protesters killing at least one person and wounding other three.
People heading to a pro-government rally were attacked by students, and later shots were fired.
Saturday is the seventh day of protests aiming to unseat the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra.
Protesters claim her government is controlled by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a coup following protests in 2006 and now lives in self-imposed exile overseas.
Clashes broke out in Bangkok between rival protesters killing at least one person and wounding other three
He is one of the most polarizing figures in Thai politics – he remains popular with many rural voters, while his opponents tend to be urban and middle class voters.
A group of students attacked vehicles bringing government supporters to the stadium – windows were smashed, and some minor injuries reported.
Later, shots were fired, but it is not clear yet by whom.
Police reinforcements were sent to the area and roads blocked, but skirmishes between the two sides continued for several hours.
Police have called for military backup to reinforce security in the city.
National police spokesman Piya Utayo said on Thai television that some 2,730 military personnel from the army, navy and air force will be deployed, AFP reports.
The government has been reluctant to risk deploying the military, which ousted Yingluck Shinawatra ‘s brother in a coup seven years ago, but may no longer have a choice, our correspondent reports.
Tension is now rising in Bangkok as the anti-government movement prepares for what it calls a “people’s revolt” – a mass occupation of government buildings.
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Thailand’s PM Yingluck Shinawatra has survived a no-confidence vote in parliament, amid major street protests in Bangkok.
The motion was brought by the opposition Democrat Party, but Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai party dominate the chamber and voted it down.
Yingluck Shinawatra’s government is facing the biggest demonstrations to hit Thailand since the violence of 2010.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has voiced concern over the tensions and urged restraint.
Protests began in Bangkok on Sunday. Since then, demonstrators calling on the government to step down have marched on ministries and government bodies in an attempt to shut them down.
The demonstrators, who are led by a former opposition party lawmaker, say Yingluck Shinawatra’s government is controlled by her brother – the ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck Shinawatra has invoked special powers allowing curfews and road closures and police have also ordered the arrest of the protest leader – but so far no move has been made to detain him.
The protests have been largely peaceful and correspondents have described the mood of the rallies as friendly.
PM Yingluck Shinawatra has survived a no-confidence vote in parliament, amid major street protests in Bangkok
On Wednesday, hundreds of protesters surrounded Thailand’s top crime-fighting agency, forcing its evacuation.
Ban Ki-moon has urged all sides to “to exercise the utmost restraint, refrain from the use of violence and to show full respect for the rule of law and human rights”.
Yingluck Shinawatra won 297 votes, easily surviving the lower house censure motion, while 134 voted against her.
So far protesters have succeeded only in disrupting the business of government for a few days, and the authorities have been careful not to risk violence by confronting them.
Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup in 2006 that left the country bitterly divided.
In 2010, thousands of “red-shirt” Thaksin Shinawatra supporters occupied key parts of the capital. More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month sit-in.
Yingluck Shinawatra and the Pheu Thai Party were subsequently voted into office, and Thailand’s political landscape has remained largely stable since then.
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