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Thai Prime Minister Rejects Calls to Step Down
BANGKOK — Thailand's prime minister says
she is open to negotiations to defuse the country's political crisis,
but remains unwilling to bow to her opponents’ demands to turn over the
government to an unelected council. Yingluck Shinawatra also says the
country's influential military will remain neutral in the standoff.
December 02, 2013 VOA News
Bangkok's street rallies, which began weeks ago, have escalated into
increasingly violent confrontations as protest leaders vow to topple the
government this week.
Outside the prime minister's offices, police fired rubber bullets, tear
gas canisters and deployed water cannons to contain the protesters.
Despite the chaos at some rally sites, business in the city largely
continued unimpeded Monday and most government workers appeared to
ignore the opposition's call for a strike.
But demonstrators remain committed to their cause. Protester Watcharapon
Vichayathanatom, says the fact that Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra’s party won an election landslide in 2011 is meaningless.
She said the prime minister’s election resulted from vote buying and
buying the votes of politicians. So she may have won the election but
millions of people have now come out, so she cannot say any longer that
she has the majority of votes.
Yingluck said the opposition is neither asking for her resignation nor
for the dissolution of parliament, but rather that the prime minister’s
power be returned to the people.
“I don’t know how we can proceed with this offer because this offer does
not exist under the practice of this constitutional law,” Yingluck
To some of the protesters, such as Raewat Pampradit, people power -
although not clearly defined - is the only solution. He said power must
be returned to the people and a people’s council established.
Thailand has been politically unstable for seven years since Yingluck’s
brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was deposed in a military coup. But the
governing party has won every election since 2001.
Political Developments in Thailand
2006: Army overthrows Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
2007: Pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins elections
2008: Anti-Thaksin protesters, known as Yellow Shirts,
stage months of demonstrations, briefly paralyze airports. Abhisit
Vejjajiva becomes prime minister.
2010: Massive pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" protests held in Bangkok, dozens killed
2011: Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin, elected prime minister
2013: Anti-government protesters hold massive street demonstrations
Chulalongkorn University political science professor Thitinan
Pongsudhirak said the prime minister finds herself in a tight corner
even though what the opposition proposes is likely not acceptable to a
majority of the electorate.
“It’s a kind of civilian coup led by the protest movement backed by the
Democrat Party machinery and representing many minority voters who have
been losing the elections in Thailand. They have become fed up,
disillusioned with the election system and Thailand electoral
democracy,” said Thitinan.
Democracy has long been fragile here with the military conducting 18 coups since the end of absolute monarchy rule in 1932.
Yingluck said the generals will remain neutral. But many observers
believe the military will ultimately be the deciding factor, in the days
ahead, in whether this government survives.