The Thai authorities issued arrest warrants for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Wednesday after detaining several key leaders linked to this week’s political turmoil in Bangkok. Thaksin’s passports were also cancelled. Bangkok is now recovering from the anti-government protests that only came to an end when troops were sent in by the prime minister.
Some red-shirted protesters are disappointed that their efforts to topple the government seem to have been in vain
Bangkok returned to normality on Wednesday after the armed forces re-secured the city following days of chaos as supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra attempted to topple the government.
Last week, the protestors had blockaded roads in the resort town of Pattaya where a leaders’ summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations was supposed to take place. It was cancelled on Saturday.
The protesters then returned to the streets of Bangkok, even commandeering public busses and setting them alight. They were hoping to force the military to take tough action.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who had been criticised for allowing the protests to disrupt the Pattaya summit, declared a state of emergency, marshalling troops to end the demonstrations. By Tuesday midday it was all over. But two people were dead and dozens injured.
Disappointed “red shirts”
Mr Chavalit from Chiang Mai, a Thaksin stronghold north of Bangkok, said disappointedly that the protestors, who wore red T-shirts, had lost: “No winner. The red shirts are not winners. They will pack up and go home.”
Some people wept openly when they heard reports that more than two people had died during the crackdown. The military and the government have so far denied heavy loss of life.
Thaksin supporter and special branch police commissioner, Lieutenant General Theradej Rodphotong, said the campaign for political change was not over.
He called on the former prime minister to negotiate with the current government: “The police and people should try to make a better understanding. I want Thaksin to negotiate with my government. Don’t fight, don’t fight, it should be negotiated.”
But some of the protesters think that violence is the only way to trigger change. Several local communities in Bangkok were forced to form vigilante groups to oppose the red-shirted protesters after mobs tried to destroy markets to provoke bloodshed.
Prime Minister has gained credibility
Mr Boomipot, who lives near the site of the week-long protests, Government House, and whose local community came under attack said the prime minister had made the right decision to declare a state of emergency and send in the troops.
“I think Abhisit will be accepted by the Thai people now. He was a little bit too soft when they were in Pattaya. I think a lot of the police in Pattaya did not cooperate with the government. But he is on the right track now. I think he has gained a lot of popularity,” he said.
While some key protest leaders have been arrested and are in custody, others remain at large.
Arrest warrants issued for Thaksin
Meanwhile, Interpol has been called on to detain former Premier Thaksin, whose passports have been cancelled. He has been in self-imposed exile since last year when he fled Thailand to avoid corruption charges.
Analysts say that his bid to return to power has virtually ended Thaksin’s political career.
“The biggest thing now is that he has become totally unacceptable to an even larger number of people than even a couple of weeks ago. That means any return of his to the scene would be totally divisive. I think he’s not part of the solution anymore,” said Chris Baker, an author and commentator on Thai politics.
The Thai economy, already weak from the global recession, is likely to suffer even more with key sectors such as tourism taking a heavy blow. Abhisit’s government has announced several multi-million dollar stimulus packages in a bid to boost the economy.