Thai politics ban sparks protests

CNN.com

 May 31, 2007

story.protest.ap.jpg

More than 1,000 supporters
of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
protested against Wednesday’s court ruling

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — More than 1,000 die-hard supporters
of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra protested a stunning court
ruling that banned his party and barred its entire leadership from
politics for five years, saying the military-appointed tribunal lacked
legitimacy.

Wearing yellow headbands that read “Coup leaders, get
out,” the group shouted and cheered every time Thaksin’s name was
mentioned.

“This is a fight by the people who are rejecting the
judiciary’s power,” said Veera Musigapong, a former deputy leader of
Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party and one of the 111 leading party members,
including Thaksin, banned from politics by the ruling Wednesday.

“As
someone who was personally affected (by the ruling), I am not accepting
the decision of the tribunal which was set up by the coup leaders and
their illegitimate power,” he said Thursday.

Some 150 policemen,
bomb squad teams and police dogs were deployed in the area near the
Royal Plaza, a large square in the heart of historic Bangkok. The plaza
itself, where the demonstrators had initially hope to rally, was
blocked off by security officials.

Army commander Gen. Sonthi
Boonyaratglin said security has been beefed up throughout the Thai
capital and will remain so until it is clear that there will be no
violent protests.

The Thai Rak Thai party was found guilty by the
Constitutional Tribunal of financing obscure parties to run against it
in last year’s elections to get around rules requiring a minimum voter
turnout.

Party leader Chaturon Chaisaeng said Thursday that a new
Thai Rak Thai would try to register under the same name while its
banned executives will attempt to engage in political activities short
of running for office.

He said that the group hopes to meet Prime
Minister Surayud Chulanont on Monday to ask him to revoke a ban on all
political activities by parties that was imposed following a bloodless
coup last September that ousted Thaksin. Surayud had promised to lift
the ban in September and hold general elections in December.

The
decision against Thai Rak Thai came hours after the Democrat Party, the
country’s oldest and a bitter rival of Thaksin’s party, was found
innocent of election law violations.

Thaksin, who now resides in
London, sent a handwritten letter to his party and supporters, urging
them to continue their political activities for the benefit of the
country.

“As a founder and ex-leader of the party until the coup,
I would like to apologize to members and all supporters for this
unexpected turn of events,” he said, criticizing the expulsion of party
executives as out of all proportion to the accusations against them.

The letter was read out by Thaksin’s lawyer, Noppadol Pattama, at a press conference in Bangkok.

“The
ruling is likely to deepen confrontation. Thai Rak Thai commanded a
large rural electorate and if they (the military and the surviving
political parties) don’t win them over and fill that political vacuum,
there will be trouble,” said Thitinan Pongsidhirak, a political
scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University.

“The resistance might be quiet but it will also be deep-seated and strong,” he said.

Other analysts said Thai politics were heading toward uncharted waters.

“A
lot could happen at this point … the process of bargaining may change
and things may be quite different from what people expect,” said Chris
Baker, a veteran analyst and author on the country’s politics. “You
can’t predict too far into the future with Thai politics.”

“There
is not a lot for any party to gain from violence at this point. If
anything, it will strengthen the grip of the military,” he said.

The
court’s ruling, which cannot be appealed, said Thai Rak Thai had used
“parliamentary elections only as a means to achieve totalitarian power”
and showed no respect for the rule of law.

The court also decided that the Democrat Party did not unfairly malign Thaksin or breach election laws.

Banning
Thai Rak Thai is a stunning end to a party that just two years ago was
the most powerful in Thailand, and by all accounts remains popular with
rural voters for its populist policies.

But its demise began when the military overthrew Thaksin, accusing him of corruption and abuse of power.

Thaksin
had dissolved parliament in February 2006 and called for snap elections
in an effort to defuse protests and secure his mandate. The three main
opposition parties boycotted the vote.

Thaksin’s party won the
April 2006 poll but was unable to convene parliament for lack of a
quorum. Thaksin’s party was accused of election law violations by
paying off other parties to sidestep the quorum rule.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The St. Petersburg Times
Friday, June 1, 2007

Reuters

Supporters of Thailand’s Ex-PM Decry Party Ban

BANGKOK
— Supporters of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
protested on Thursday against the court-ordered dissolution of their
party and the political banishment of its leaders which threaten more
turmoil.

Some
2,000 people rallied peacefully near Government House a day after the
ruling, shouting slogans against the coup leaders who ousted Thaksin in
a bloodless putsch last year.

“Democracy Back, Thaksin Come Back,” read one banner held by a protester wearing a “CNS Get Out” headband, referring to the name the generals gave
themselves, the Council for National Security.

“Although Thai Rak Thai has been banned, we still love Thaksin,” Jatuporn
Prompan, a rally organizer and former party spokesman, told the crowd
from the stage.

“The Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that Thai Rak Thai has committed a
crime that was hostile to democracy. But who will make that ruling on
the CNS which toppled a democratically elected government?,” Jatuporn
said.

Earlier,Thaksin, who is living in London, issued a statement urging his
supporters to accept the ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal, which
found his party guilty of two charges of fraud in last year’s
inconclusive poll, later annulled by the courts.

He also pressed the generals to speed up elections promised for December. Analysts say the plan could be derailed by unrest.

“I would urge everyone to stay calm and don’t make any moves,” said the
billionaire telecoms tycoon whose Thai Rak Thai [Thais Love Thais]
party was the first in Thai history to win an absolute parliamentary
majority.

There has been no violence since the ruling, but police set up extra checkpoints across the city of 10 million people.

“Nothing
has happened yet, but we are worried that a third party could cause
trouble,” the Bangkok police chief, Lieutenant-General Adisorn Nonsee,
told reporters.

The rival Democrat Party, Thailand’s oldest party but no match for
Thaksin’s machine in the vote-rich countryside, was found not guilty of
breaking election laws, and should now be in pole position for the
promised December election.

The rulings, greeted by the English-language Bangkok Post with a banner
headline reading “BYE BYE THAI RAK THAI,” would “reshape and realign”
Thailand’s electoral landscape, political analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak
said.

“The military will come into an alliance with the surviving politicians and
this alliance will be anchored with the Democrat Party,” he said.

“The military has to protect itself, it has to watch its back, it has to
have some cooperation from the politicians after the election because
the military will be out of power.”

But he said this new alliance could not ignore the millions of rural and
urban poor who lionized Thaksin, in part for populist policies such as
cheap health care and loans.

Go to Google News Home
Thaksin supporters protest ban
Taipei Times, Taiwan – 4 hours ago
More
than 1000 die-hard supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin
Shinawatra yesterday protested a stunning court ruling that banned his
party and

Ousted Premier’s Allies Protest Ban on Thai Party
New York Times, NY – 4 hours ago
By
AP. BANGKOK, May 31 — About 1000 die-hard supporters of Thailand’s
ousted prime minister demonstrated Thursday against a court ruling that
banned his
Ousted PM’s backers protest court ruling
Boston Globe, MA – 7 hours ago
By
Sutin Wannabovorn, AP Writer | May 31, 2007. BANGKOK, Thailand –About
1000 die-hard supporters of Thailand’s ousted prime minister
demonstrated Thursday
Ousted prime minister’s supporters protest after Thai court’s
San Diego Union Tribune, CA – 7 hours ago
By
Sutin Wannabovorn. AP. BANGKOK, Thailand – About 1000 die-hard
supporters of Thailand’s ousted prime minister demonstrated Thursday
against a stunning
Thaksin supporters rally after Thai court bans party
New Zealand Herald, New Zealand – 8 hours ago
BANGKOK
– Supporters of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
protested on Thursday against the court-ordered dissolution of their
party and the
Thai ruling may trigger political shift
Christian Science Monitor, MA – 8 hours ago
By
Daniel Ten Kate | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor.
Bangkok, Thailand – A military-installed court Wednesday dissolved
former Prime
Ousted Pm’s Backers Protest Court Ruling
Guardian Unlimited, UK – 8 hours ago
From
AP. AP Photo BK103, XBK108, XBK107. By SUTIN WANNABOVORN. AP Writer.
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) – About 1000 die-hard supporters of Thailand’s
ousted prime
Thai judge dissolves former PM’s political party
Telegraph.co.uk, UK – 9 hours ago
By
Sebastien Berger in Bangkok. Thailand’s most effective political party
ever was ordered dissolved this evening, reinforcing military rule in a
country
The party is over
Economist, UK – 13 hours ago
THE
nine judges of Thailand’s Constitutional Tribunal took ten hours to
outline in a marathon session, televised live on May 30th, the
electoral-fraud cases
Thaksin supporters protest ban at Bangkok rally
Reuters – 16 hours ago
BANGKOK
(Reuters) – At least 2000 anti-coup activists and supporters of ousted
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra hit the streets of Bangkok on
Thursday to
Thai tension as Thaksin party axed
The Age, Australia – 16 hours ago
POLITICAL
tension has risen further in Thailand following a tribunal ruling that
the party founded by deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra be
dissolved
Exiled Thai leader urges calm over political crisis
Globe and Mail, Canada – 18 hours ago
BANGKOK
— Exiled former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged his
stunned supporters on Thursday to accept the dissolution of their party
and the
Ex-Thai PM urges stunned supporters to accept ban
Reuters India, India – 18 hours ago
By
Darren Schuettler. BANGKOK (Reuters) – Exiled former Thai prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged his stunned supporters on Thursday to
accept the
Ex-Thai PM supporters plan protest
SI.com – 19 hours ago
BANGKOK,
Thailand (AP) — Supporters of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra planned to protest Thursday over a stunning court ruling
that banned
Ex-PM urges calm over ban
NEWS.com.au, Australia – 20 hours ago
EXILED
former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has urged his supporters
to accept the disbanding of his party and a five-year political ban on
its top
Thaksin supporters plan protests
NDTV.com, India – 23 hours ago
AP.
Die-hard supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra planned
to protest on Thursday over a stunning court ruling.
Thaksin urges supporters to accept party ban
Malaysia Star, Malaysia – 23 hours ago
BANGKOK
(Reuters) – Exiled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has
urged his supporters to accept the disbanding of his party and a
five-year
Thai political future uncertain after Thaksin banned
Swissinfo, Switzerland – May 30, 2007
By
Darren Schuettler. BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand faced more political
turmoil on Thursday after exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was
banned from
Thai political future uncertain after Thaksin banned
Boston Globe, MA – May 30, 2007
By
Darren Schuettler | May 31, 2007. BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand faced
more political turmoil on Thursday after exiled Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra
Ousted PM’s supporters plan protest following Thai court’s
International Herald Tribune, France – May 30, 2007
AP.
BANGKOK, Thailand: Die-hard supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra planned to protest Thursday over a stunning court ruling
that banned
Thailand ex-PM party ban ‘unfair’
BBC News, UK – May 30, 2007
The
leaders of Thailand’s former governing party, Thai Rak Thai, have
criticised a constitutional court ruling banning the organisation.

Thai Court Disbands Former Prime Minister’s Political Party
New York Times, NY – May 30, 2007
By
SETH MYDANS. BANGKOK May 30 — A constitutional court on Wednesday
banned the political party of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
after finding it
Thai court clears Democrat Party of election corruption
Taipei Times, Taiwan – May 30, 2007
A
Thai court yesterday cleared the country’s oldest political party on
charges of election law violations, sparing it from possible
disbandment ahead of
Thai Court Clears One Party but Convicts Another
New York Times, NY – May 30, 2007
By
SETH MYDANS. BANGKOK, May 30 — A Thai constitutional court found today
that members of one of the country’s major political parties violated
the

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