Pattaya Daily News

02 September 2008 :: 11:09:28 am 42797

Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Declares State of Emergency in Bangkok

Sept 2 - Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej declared a State of Emergency in the capital of Bangkok after violent overnight clashes between supporters of pro-and anti-government group of protesters that left one dead and over 30 injured.
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The prime minister announced enforcements of an Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations in Bangkok, hours after clashes in the streets between supporters of the pro-government National United front of Democracy against Dictatorship (DAAD) and the anti-government -People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) that staged the protest for 100 days on Monday.

There was one person dead and over 30 injured after fighting which mainly occurred on Ratchadamneon

Nok Avenue where the PAD staged another rally beside the Government House compound.

The decree bans gatherings of more than five persons and as well as media dissemination of news likely to panic the public or instigate violence.

Army chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda was appointed to head the emergency decree enforcement team in Bangkok while National Police Chief and First Regional Army Commander are his deputies.

Pro-government protesters appeared to disperse soon after learning of the emergency decree announcement.

However, the PAD defied the State of Emergency, saying that the they would continue holding the Government House compound and protesting against the government until the prime minister resigns.

Schools in the vicinity of the clash areas announced their closure for an indefinite period. Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus also announced a one day closure.

The clashes broke out after the members of the pro-government group which rallied at Sanam Luang, and then moved to the Makhawan Rangsan Bridge where the PAD has been staging its anti-government rally.

Armed with batons, clubs and homemade weapons, the two sides fought on the avenue and connecting roads, chasing and beating their opponents.

One person died from severe injuries and others were in serious condition, some hospitalised with gunshot wounds.

Police were unsuccessful in stopping the street fighting, but afterward army troops in riot gear were assigned to help, and the situation appeared to be calm. (TNA)

Notes:

At least one person has been killed and 22 injured in clashes between pro- and anti-government supporters in Thailand?s capital Bangkok, a health ministry official and medical sources have said.
Pro-government activists fought near Government House on Tuesday with those calling for the resignation of Samak Sundaravej, the Thai prime minister.

“Thousands of protesters from Sanam Luang went to the scene and clashed,” the police officer in charge of the area said, referring to a plaza where protesters often gather.

“The police took about 15 minutes to break up the groups,” he said.
The Thai army has sent four companies of soldiers to assist police officers at the protests, an army commander said on Tuesday.

The area around the government building has been occupied since last week by anti-government demonstrators.

Samak is refusing to stand down and his supporters have demonstrated their backing on the streets and in parliament.

Under pressure
A coalition of 43 unions said on Monday that workers will on Wednesday cut off water, electricity and phone services at government offices and disrupt flights of the national airline in support of the anti-government protesters.


“The government has beaten protesters, and that justifies our retaliating by stopping water, telephone service and electricity to some government agencies,” Sawit Kaewwan, secretary-general of the State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation, or SERC, told a news conference.

Samak’s government has been under siege for nearly a week, after a movement calling itself the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) stormed the prime minister’s compound and forced the closure of airports and railways in other parts of the country.

Anti-government protesters and opposition leaders have been demanding that Samak dissolve parliament and call new elections.

But his supporters staged a counter attack on Sunday, with more than 1,000 gathering at the gates of parliament to show solidarity with a government they say was democratically elected by the people.

Smaller political parties who help make up the ruling coalition that controls more than two-thirds of parliament’s more powerful lower house, have also vowed to stand by Samak.

Economic effects
Analysts say Thailand’s economy has never really recovered since the coup that ousted Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister nearly two years ago and some had hoped that the country was finally getting on track to recovery.

But the latest standoff between protesters and the government may be threatening that recovery.

With airports in popular holiday areas such as Phuket and Krabi shut down by protesters and threats of further enforced closures, tourists may begin staying away.

70/30 demand
The PAD claims the government is a puppet of Thaksin who was ousted in a military coup amid allegations of corruption.

The PAD’s anti-Thaksin demonstrations in 2006 had helped to trigger the coup.
Now it wants to topple this government as well because it says the government is attempting to amend the constitution to suit itself.
“We hope that by what we’re doing will teach the politicians a lesson that just because they have the majority vote, doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want,” Sondhi Limthongul, an anti-government leader, said.

The group says that Western-style democracy of one-man, one-vote, gives too much weight to Thailand’s rural majority, whom it considers susceptible to vote-buying that breeds corruption.

It wants 70 per cent of parliament appointed and only 30 per cent elected, a move detractors say is undemocratic.

Supporters of the government blame the PAD for destabilising the country.
“The PAD were the ones who invited the military to illegally take control of our country. We don’t trust the PAD since all their actions past and present lead our country backward,” Somyot Preuksakasemsuk, a government supporter, said.

The influential army commander, General Anupong Paochinda, has vowed that the military will not stage a coup.
The prime minister himself has refused to stand down and give in to opponents he says only reflect a minority in the country.

Parliamentary session
At a special joint parliamentary sitting of MPs and senators to discuss the crisis on Sunday, a number of politicians called for Samak to step down.

But Samak has said he will not let protesters force his hand.
“I am sure that I love this country as much as anybody,” he said. “But I love democracy much more, more than anyone who told me to resign.”

Shortly after the end of the debate in the early hours of Monday, a small explosion at a police booth near where there have been anti-governments protests damaged windows, but caused no casualties. No one claimed responsibility for the blast.


12.15 am.

THAI PM SAYS STATE OF EMERGENCY DECREE ONLY FOR SHORT TERM

BANGKOK, Sept 2 – Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej told a televised news conference Tuesday morning that the State of Emergency Decree would not be enforced for an extended period but he gave no time frame when it would end.

Mr. Samak told reporters at the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters that the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations would cause some inconvenience but the public could carry out their routine daily lives normally.

“Life will be as usual, the decree will not last long,” the prime minister said, asking for cooperation from the public.

Mr. Samak said the committee he had appointed to enforce the decree would investigate the cause on the violence which erupted between pro- and anti-government demonstrators early Tuesday morning which left one person dead and over 30 injured.

Following the implementation of the State of Emergency, the prime minister appointed Army chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda to head the emergency decree enforcement team in Bangkok while the National Police Chief and First Regional Army Commander are his deputies. The appointed committee would also be responsible to return the capital to normality, Mr. Samak said.

The premier said he had opted to use the State of Emergency to confront the crisis as he considered it was the best and most gentle way to restore order after the disruptions of peace and public safety that occurred with the use of violence early Tuesday morning.

He said he reacted with caution as he did not want violence to occur, and was not acting alone, on his own, but in consultation with a number of officials. The decision to use the decree was made after two hours of discussion with other officials.

He added that the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) that staged anti-government protest had no legal or moral right to be encamped in the Government House compound and that the committee set up to enforce the decree would be responsible to resolve the problem.

The prime minister said the decree would affect the Bangkok gubernatorial election campaign, but he would ask the Election Commission to extend both the campaign period and the date of the election as the prohibition of gatherings of more than five people under the decree makes it difficult to conduct an election. (TNA)

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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