15 months of ups and downs in post-coup Thailand

Guardian Unlimited

  • Reuters
  • Wednesday December 19 2007

(For related story see THAILAND-ELECTION/ECONOMY or [ID:nBKK174132])

Dec 19 (Reuters) – Thais vote in a general election on Sunday that is meant to put the country back on the road to democracy after last year’s military coup, the 18th in 75 years.

Here are some of the political and economic milestones since the bloodless September 2006 putsch, the first in 15 years:

* Sept. 19, 2006: The military ousts Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as he prepares to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Thaksin, winner of two landslide elections and in power for five years, goes into exile in London.

* Oct. 1: Former army commander-in-chief Surayud Chulanont is sworn in as interim prime minister. Thaksin steps down as Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party leader two days later.

* Dec. 19: Stock exchange plunges 14.8 percent, the biggest one-day drop in its history, after the Bank of Thailand announces stringent capital controls to stem a rise in the baht.

* Dec. 31: Bombs in Bangkok kill three people and wound more than 30 as crowds celebrate New Year’s Eve. There have been no arrests.

* Jan. 9, 2007: Foreign investors receive another shock as controversial changes to the Foreign Business Act are proposed.

* Feb. 21: Economic adviser Somkid Jatusripitak, a former finance minister and architect of Thaksin’s pro-business policies, resigns six days after his appointment outrages opponents of the old Thaksin government.

* Feb. 28: Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula quits, blaming cabinet infighting. His successor, Chalongphob Sussangkarn, is appointed on March 7.

* March 26: Prosecutors charge Thaksin’s wife, Potjaman, her brother and secretary with tax evasion, the first charges to emerge from an investigation into alleged corruption.

* March 29: Surayud announces that a general election will be held in December.

* May 30: The Constitutional Tribunal dissolves Thai Rak Thai for breaking election laws and bans Thaksin and 110 other party leaders from politics for five years.

* Aug 20: Voters endorse new military-drafted constitution, the country’s 18th in 75 years of on-off democracy. Government declares victory and promises an election before year’s end.

* Oct 1: Coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin steps down as army chief, to become a deputy prime minister in charge of internal security.

* Dec 5: Revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej calls for national unity as Thailand’s 64 million people celebrate his 80th birthday. (Writing by Gill Murdoch and David Cutler, Singapore Editorial Reference Unit)



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