Key dates in recent Thai political history, as voters go to polls Sunday to restore democracy

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© AP

2007-12-19 01:29:37 –

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) – Some key dates in Thailand’s recent political history, as voters go to the polls Sunday to restore democracy after 15 months of military rule.

_ February 2001: Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications mogul, is elected prime minister.

_ January 2004: Islamic radicals launch an insurgency in Thailand’s south. Thaksin imposes martial law; critics say his heavy-handed approach fueled anger and violence.

_ February 2005: Thaksin is re-elected in a landslide.

_ November 2005: Weekly anti-Thaksin rallies begin, drawing thousands of people accusing the government of corruption, abuse of power, censorship and mishandling the Muslim insurgency.

_ February 2006: Anti-Thaksin marches gain momentum with tens of thousands gathering in Bangkok to demand his resignation. Thaksin dissolves parliament and calls snap elections.

_ April 2006: Thaksin wins 57 percent of the votes in an election boycotted by the opposition. Under increasing pressure, he announces he will step down to end protests.

_ May 2006: After a seven-week break, Thaksin returns as caretaker prime minister, angering his critics.

_ September 2006: Military stages a bloodless coup while Thaksin is at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

_ May 2007: Thaksin’s party is banned; he and 110 party executives are barred from politics for five years for election law violations.

_ July 2007: Hundreds of Thaksin supporters join the little-known People’s Power Party, which becomes a proxy for his disbanded party.

_ August 2007: Voters approve a new constitution, the country’s 18th since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

_ December 2007: The People’s Power Party leads polls ahead of the Dec. 23 election.

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