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Bangkok sees rise in political tension

PM Abhisit’s one-time ‘yellow shirt’ allies turning on him; talk of military coup surfaces

A supporter of the People’s Alliance for
Democracy, also known as the Yellow Shirts, poses for a photograph near
Government House in Bangkok. — PHOTO: AP

BANGKOK – POLITICAL temperatures are rising once again in Bangkok,
as Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s one-time allies turn against
him and return to street protests outside his office.
Protesters
from the royalist, right-wing People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD),
whose massive street rallies led to the ouster of then-premier Thaksin
Shinawatra, have been gathering and returning to their old stomping
grounds. At their old protest site at the Makkawan bridge opposite the
United Nations building, the ‘yellow shirts’ have taken over the road,
erected a big stage and set up an encampment designed for a prolonged
sit-in.
So far, however, the protesters number
in the low thousands only – far short of the huge gatherings that had
led to Thaksin’s ouster in 2006 as well as that of the government loyal
to him in 2008. There were barely 3,000 in the evenings, and even fewer
in the day.
While they had helped pave the way
for the entrance of Mr Abhisit’s government, the yellow shirts – which
are backed by powerful elements of Thailand’s old elites – are now
turning against him.
The PAD, allied with the
ultra-nationalist Thai Patriots Network and the Santi Asoke sect, has
adopted a nationalist stance and is accusing the government of allowing
Cambodia to grab land along the countries’ border. It is demanding that
Bangkok cancel a 2000 agreement with Cambodia on border issues,
withdraw from Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, and expel Cambodian
citizens from Thai territory.
Ties between
Cambodia and Thailand have been tense since 2008, when an ancient
temple on disputed land on the countries’ border was granted World
Heritage status.
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