Pattaya Daily News

27 November 2008 :: 11:11:00 am 39903

Thailand’s 2nd National Airport Closed: Protesters Shut Don Mueang

BANGKOK, Nov 27 - Anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters forcefully shut down Bangkok's domestic airport, Don Mueang, late Wednesday, only one day after they blocked access to and occupied Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand's showcase air transport centre and primary international port of entry, a move which led to its closure late Tuesday, virtually crippling the country's tourism industry.
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PAD demonstrators marched from Don Mueang’s domestic terminal to its nearby international terminal and blocked the entrance to the airport at around midnight.

They also planned to surround the military airport at Don Mueang in an attempt to prevent ministers to fly to Chiang Mai to attend the weekly cabinet meeting scheduled to be held on Thursday in the northern province after Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat return from APEC summit in Peru and landing in Chiang Mai to avoid confrontation with the PAD who seized Suvarnabhumi Tuesday night.

Thousands of PAD protesters stormed into the Suvarnabhumi terminal arrival and departure area, forcing the airport to halt both inbound and outbound flights. The move is causing incalculable damage to Thailand’s tourism, travel and hospitality oriented economy, investment sentiment and national image.

All domestic flights at Don Mueang Airport have been cancelled, causing frustration to passengers needing to travel for business and personal commitments.

“I love coming to Thailand but I’m disappointed with what has happened,” said one foreign visitor. Another international passenger said he has problems with his business because he could not catch a connecting flight.

The PAD moved its truck-mounted ‘mobile stage’ to Don Mueang’s international terminal and its leaders took turns to be on stage attacking the government.

Meanwhile, the Alliance leadership announced emphatically that the PAD will continue to occupy Suvarnabhumi Airport until the prime minister resigns.

In his first televised address on returning from Peru, the premier denounced the anti-government protesters’ seizure of Suvarnabhumi Airport and urged government officials to enforce the law.

In response to army chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda’s call for a snap election, the beleaguered prime minister insisted he will continue to work as the government was elected legitimately.

Gen. Anupong stepped in to try to end the spiralling political crisis, urging the prime minister to call fresh elections and demanding that the protesters end their siege of Suvarnabhumi Airport. He insisted he was not staging a coup, and asserted that he believed a coup would not end the political unrest.

As for the Civil Court’s ordering the PAD to leave Suvarnabhumi Airport immediately, a PAD core leader said its lawyers would provide a full legal defense against the court’s order.

The court ruled that the actions of the 13 defendants — the full roster of announced Peoples’ Alliance for Democracy leaders — who convinced their followers to shut down the airport had, in fact, violated the Constitution as their action infringed on the rights of others to travel freely.

On the advice of the minister of transport, the management agency Airports of Thailand (AOT), which runs Suvarnabhumi Airport, sought a court order to evict the protesters from the airport premises.

Suvarnabhumi Airport director and acting AOT president Serirat Prasutanond expressed hope that the PAD would depart from the airport. He said Suvarnabhumi could resume its normal operation within two hours of the PAD leaving.

Thousands of PAD supporters seized Suvarnabhumi Airport Tuesday in what they called the final showdown to oust the government and also demanded that the 2007 Constitution, written by legal and constitutional experts appointed by the 2006 coupmakers, must not be amended. (TNA)

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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