September 21, 2009 2:48:06 am
Clashes and chaos,coups and counter-coups and consecutive constitutions have characterised Thailands political stalemate. The recent protests marking the third anniversary of the coup that ousted Thaksin Shinawatra from the prime ministership have brought the pro-Thaksin red shirts to the streets highlighting yet again the deep divisions in Thai society.
Shinawatra is deeply popular in Thailands north for his populist policies. Brought to power in landslide election victories in 2001 and 2005,he was ousted in a military coup while he was on a visit to the UN General Assembly. Currently in exile following a court sentence that charges him with conflict of interest in relation to a land purchase scandal,he continues to egg supporters on from an undisclosed location. The red shirts maintain that democracy has been held hostage by Bangkoks royalist elite who enjoy the support of the judiciary and military. As the rift between the two factions deepens,one cannot but remember the chaos Bangkok has been subjected to in the past year. One protest led to the removal of an elected prime minister and the other brought the country to its knees as Bangkoks international airport came to a standstill due to a sit-in by royalist yellow-shirt protestors.
The political system now once again stands challenged as demands for the current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign echo from various segments of society. As the situation intensifies eyes are upon the aging King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He has reigned for over six decades and has served as the head of state through more than a dozen attempted or successful coups and constitutions. As the king has traditionally stayed out of politics and continues to maintain that the current political conundrum can only be addressed constitutionally,the red shirts maintain that this position has allowed for the further entrenchment of elitist power. Therefore,till something gives,the stalemate will be far from broken.
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