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Pattaya Daily News

07 October 2008 :: 18:10:49 pm 41703

Police Fire Teargas at Bangkok Protesters

BANGKOK, Tuesday 7th October More than 60 people were reported wounded Tuesday when riot police fired tear gas on more than 4000 anti-government demonstrators in Bangkok heating up a political crisis that has gripped the country for the past six weeks. Most of the injured were protesters, but at least two were police officers. According to a medical officer at the city's emergency response centre, at least 7 people were critically injured and one man had lost his left foot.
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The police crackdown occurred at dawn, about 6.20 am, after demonstrators for the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) massed at Bangkok’s parliament building overnight to prevent the new cabinet from addressing the house. The government of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, which was sworn in on September 25th, cannot legally carry out its executive duties until it has delivered its policy statement. To prohibit representatives from entering for a meeting is not right, Somchai told reporters Monday night. He said it was the duty of the police to allow the meeting to convene and that he didn’t have to give an order.

Maj Gen Anan Srihiran told Reuters: “It was absolutely necessary for police to use tear gas to break up the crowd. “We only wanted to open up a road for the cabinet to enter parliament. We will not do anything else to the protesters for the rest of the day.”

The action by the PAD – which is seeking the government’s resignation and a major overhaul of the electoral system – came in response to the recent arrests of two of its leaders, and seemed intended to spark a confrontation engineered to rally supporters to the flagging protest movement.

The PAD claim Somchai is a proxy for ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in 2006 by military leaders who accused him of corruption and who now resides in exile in London. Mr Somchai, who is a brother-in-law of Thaksin, replaced Samak Sundaravej, who was dismissed on a conflict of interest charge.

Following the police action the PAD regrouped outside the parliament building. At the nearby Government House, protest leaders called for supporters to join their ranks. “Brothers and sisters, please come out and help us,” said Somsak Kosaisuk, one of nine protest leaders. “We were protesting peacefully. I urge you to come out to join us in our fight against this illegitimate government.”

“We will not stop,” Somsak said. “We will fight until we have our victory”

The protesters want to replace one-man, one-vote with a system that has some representatives chosen by professions and social groups. The new government had previously indicated it wants to start negotiations with the PAD – but it is also pushing ahead with controversial plans to amend the constitution, a key grievance of the protesters.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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