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Exit polls suggest that the party allied to Thailand's ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra has taken a strong lead in general elections.
But emerging partial results suggest the People Power Party (PPP) will fall short of an outright majority, and a coalition government is likely.
The pattern may change again, given that early results tend to come in from urban areas where the PPP is weaker.
It is the first election since the 2006 coup that overthrew Mr Thaksin.
BANGKOK, Dec 30 (IPS) - Thailand’s transition from military rule to a democratically elected administration appears far from smooth. The results of the first general election since the September 2006 coup d’etat point to a nation heading into a political storm in the New Year.
Little wonder why Bangkok’s well-heeled, who reportedly voted in large numbers for the Democrats, and the junta, which has been exposed trying to undermine the PPP’s campaign, find it hard to accept the political reality unfolded at the recent poll. One senior member of the military-appointed cabinet has even told the state-run Thai News Agency that another coup cannot be ruled out.
Such views suggest that Thailand’s deep political divide be easily bridged in 2008. ‘’We are now a deeply polarised society and I cannot see the possibility of compromise in the New Year,’’ says Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University.
‘’The real silent majority in the countryside have been awakened, and they will keep voting for policies that deal with their concerns,’’ he added during an interview. ‘’The only way to bridge this difference is if the people who have power, the wealthy, seriously address the concerns of the poor. But the establishment does not appear willing to do so.’’
SOURCE | ipsnews.net | Read more...
At first glance, the new cabinet appears to be a dispiriting relapse to the messy and inept coalition politics that led Thailand into the Asian financial meltdown of 1997.
Many of the faces in the new government are in fact very old faces, veterans of previous administrations with little to recommend them except an insatiable appetite for political office.
SOURCE | news.bbc.co.uk | news.bbc.co.uk...Read more...
Yongyuth's announcement came as the EC ruled in majority to disqualify him as MP after he was found guilty of violating election laws. The EC will forward the case to the Supreme Court within two weeks.
Thaksin also reportedly got his red diplomatic passport back after his former legal adviser, Noppadon Pattama, was named foreign minister.
Thailand braces for ousted leader's homecoming tomorrow
Parties concerned are bracing for the return of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, scheduled for tomorrow by flight TG 603 from Hong Kong to Suvarnabhumi Airport at 9.40am.
Although the situation is expected to remain under control, the soldiers will strictly follow the direct order of the Army chief if disturbance erupts, First Army Region commander Lt General Prayuth Chanocha said.
"Thaksin's return should lead to the improved situation and not violent confrontation," he said.
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been released on bail shortly after his arrival in Thailand after spending 17 months in exile.
He said he would beat what he called politically motivated corruption charges from the years he was in power.
The 58-year-old billionaire businessman was briefly detained by police on his arrival at Bangkok airport.
He was removed from power in a military coup in September 2006 and has lived outside the country since then.
Visiting Thai PM Samak Sundaravej arrives at Vientiane Wattay airport in Laos on Friday
"I am no one's nominee," Samak snapped at reporters as he headed off on his first official visit to Laos, which was overshadowed by Thaksin's itinerary in Bangkok.
Thaksin arranged a public relations blitz Friday featuring free clinics with English soccer players and a visit to Thailand's most senior Buddhist monk.
When Thaksin flew home Thursday, he brought along two players from his Manchester City soccer team, saying they could help improve the skills of Thai children and the national team. Thaksin bought the Premier League team while living in exile in London.
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and striker Kelvin Etuhu were scheduled to hold a clinic for children sponsored by Thaksin on Friday afternoon -- an event guaranteed to attract media attention in this soccer-mad nation.
For those who campaigned against him in 2006, the prospect of Thaksin Shinawatra pulling the strings behind a government stacked with his allies is an alarming one.
For them his two administrations were characterised by abrasive, arrogant leadership, by a frightening accumulation of unaccountable power and by human rights violations on a scale not seen in decades.
Those who support him cannot wait to see him back in office.
For the most part they backed his hard-line policies towards drug dealers and the southern insurgency, which cost thousands of lives.
To them he was the first prime minister who seemed to care about the poor, the first whose policies made tangible improvements to their lives.
He is a deeply polarising figure, an unfamiliar phenomenon in a country whose politics has traditionally been messy, opaque but definitely unexciting.
SOURCE | news.bbc.co.uk | Read more...
Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pleaded not guilty Wednesday before the Supreme Court in one of two criminal corruption cases against him.
More than 200 policemen with bomb detectors and five sniffer dogs were deployed around the court where some 400 of Thaksin's supporters waited, many holding portraits of the former leader over their heads.
"The defendant pleaded not guilty of the charges," chief judge Thongloh Chom-ngam told the court, which set the next hearing for April 29. It also excused Thaksin from having to appear at every hearing, as requested by his lawyer.
"We can prove our innocence," said Thaksin, who was ousted in a September 2006 military coup for alleged corruption and abuse of power.
When he emerged after the hearing, some of his supporters burst into tears while others cheered him, shouting "Thaksin, fight, fight."
"Never mind, everything will be OK," Thaksin told one female supporter who cried as she hugged him.