World Bulletin/News Desk
Thousands of supporters of the embattled Thai government gathered Saturday in a northwestern Bangkok suburb following the midweek dismissal of their prime minister.
Dressed in red and brandishing pictures of Yingluck Shinawatra and her elder brother Thaksin, premier from 2001 until he was overthrown in a 2006 coup, the supporters – known as “Red Shirts” - sat in front of a stage set up on a large avenue listening to their United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship leaders.
A billboard nearby read: “Stop destroying democracy.”
The Constitutional Court removed Yingluck and nine of her ministers from office Wednesday for abuse of power in relation to the transfer of a high-ranking civil servant in 2011. She was also indicted Thursday for dereliction of duty.
Malika Amphaiwong, a farmer who had traveled several hundreds of miles from northern Chaiyapum province, told the Anadolu Agency that she attended the protest as she wanted democracy to take root in Thailand.
"Our vote has a value, but they canceled the election so we are not satisfied," she told AA. “We don’t want an appointed government, we only want a government through elections."
The February 2 legislative elections were disrupted by an anti-government movement called the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and nullified on March 21 by the Constitutional Court.
The PDRC, an opposition group representing the interests of the Thai elite and the Bangkok middle class, has been demonstrating in the capital for the last six months.
They are demanding the entire government's dismissal and the setting up of an unelected "people’s council" to implement reforms to limit the role of elected politicians.
“What happens is like a conspiracy orchestrated by the opposition, the courts and the agencies,” said Amphaiwong, referring to a series of decisions against the Shinawatra political clan.
At midday, the Red Shirts’ mobilization was far less impressive than the anti-government march that paralyzed most of the capital Friday.
Red Shirts, however - mostly from northern and northeastern provinces- continued to arrive in organized bus convoys.
Some demonstrators expressed their despair at what they consider an onslaught against the government.
Chamlong Theerasat, a farmer from southern Krabi province, told AA that he thought recent moves proved that there is no more justice in the country.
"One side is always found guilty and the other side is never considered as wrong. They can escape scot-free each time," Theerasat said.
“Suthep wants to provoke a coup,” he added, referring to former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban who ordered a military assault against Red Shirt demonstrators in May 2010 that left 70 dead.
An arrest warrant for the PDRC leader was issued last November, but he has never answered the summons. Prior to Yingluck’s dismissal, he had said the PDRC would "reclaim sovereign power" if she were impeached.
“And indeed, if the military doesn’t go out, people will kill each other. There is no other way out,” Theerasat said.
Although military coups are relatively common in Thai society - 18 since the overthrow of the absolute monarchy; the last in 2006 to remove billionaire Thaksin - the army has remained remarkably subdued since the political crisis’ beginning in November.
In April, Yingluck had appeared to scold the military about its reluctance to take a stand after Suthep’s aggressive talk.
Yingluck’s government has faced a wave of opposition protests since her government pushed through an amnesty in 2013 that would have lifted a 2008 corruption conviction against Thaksin - a divisive figure in Thai politics who is currently living in exile, mostly in Dubai.
Confronted by massive demonstrations, the government withdrew the bill, but the opposition has alleged corruption by the government and the Shinawatra family.
Yingluck dissolved the parliament on December 9 and called the February 2 elections, nullified later.
Last Mod: 10 Mayıs 2014, 15:53