Thaksin supporters set to protest for 2009 Thai polls
Supporters of former Thai prime minister Shinawatra vowed on Wednesday to resume their street campaign for fresh elections in 2009.
Supporters of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra vowed on Wednesday to resume their street campaign for fresh elections in 2009, suggesting no respite from the country's political crisis as a recession looms.
In a sign of the strife to come, leaders of the pro-Thaksin camp warned they may target a regional summit in Bangkok in February to pile pressure on the weeks-old new government led by former opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.
"We are discussing among DAAD leaders that we will protest against the government again after the New Year holidays," Veera Musikapong, leader of Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD), told reporters.
"Our demand is the same, a dissolution of the house," he said
He issued the threat after thousands of red-shirted demonstrators ended a two-day seige on parliament which forced the Prime Minister to change the venue of his maiden policy speech.
This week's protests by the DAAD were largely peaceful, but the impasse between Bangkok's royalist and business elite, who accused Thaksin of corruption, and rural voters who loved his populist policies, shows no sign of abating.
Thai newspapers said the outlook for the country's political stability remains bleak, more than two years after Thaksin was removed in a coup, because nobody has found a solution to the fundamental urban-rural divide in Thai society. "The point of negotiation has passed," Matichon newspaper said in an editorial comparing the country's political condition to a paralysing illness.
"There is a chance that this disease will develop and cause death if we don't cure it or find the right cure," it said.
ECONOMY IN TROUBLE
In his speech at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, Abhisit pledged to move quickly on an $8.6 billion stimulus package, but said he feared the political chaos could still push the country into a recession.
"These conflicts are the country's weakness, especially at a time when the world economy is entering its worst crisis in a century," he told legislators gathered at the ministry.
Slowing exports, falling tourist arrivals, weak commodity prices and delayed private investment would be major problems facing Thailand in 2009 as the global economy weakened, he said.
The Bank of Thailand painted a bleak economic picture on Tuesday, reporting a nearly 18 percent fall in exports in November, the first decline since March 2002, and a slump in manufacturing.
It blamed the fall in exports on slowing global demand and a week-long siege of Bangkok's main airport by yellow-shirted members of the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) which crippled cargo shipments and tourism.
Many Thai and foreign companies have already cut jobs, prompting Abhisit to warn that unemployment could double without urgent government action.
But analysts doubt Abhisit's stimulus package can spare the economy from recession, given the prospects for more political unrest in 2009 and the country's heavy reliance on exports, which amount to more than 60 percent of GDP.
In recent weeks rating agencies have reduced their sovereign outlooks for Thailand, saying political turmoil would compound the impact of the global financial crisis.
Abhisit's election as Thailand's third prime minister in three months on December 15 has helped the PAD off the streets.
But his shaky coalition government has enjoyed no honeymoon period and many observers believe his government will not see out 2009.
Reuters Last Mod: 31 Aralık 2008, 12:41