Thousands of Thais protest 'double standards'

Thousands of Thais rallied outside the rural home of a royal adviser they accuse of involvement in the 2006 coup that toppled the billionaire.

Thousands of Thais protest 'double standards'

Thousands of supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra rallied on Monday outside the rural home of a royal adviser they accuse of involvement in the 2006 coup that toppled the billionaire.

At least 5,000 protesters from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) gathered to denounce Surayud Chulanont for his alleged illegal occupation of forest land in the mountains of northeastern Thailand.

Surayud sits on the Privy Council and the UDD says members of this body orchestrated the military coup that ousted Thaksin in September 2006. Former army chief Surayud became premier one month later and served until elections in December 2007.

Prosecutors agreed last week Surayud was not the rightful owner of the plot of land, which he will have to return to the state. Tanapit Moonprauk, a spokesman for the Attorney-General's office, said prosecutors would not press charges against Surayud because he had not intended to break the law.

However, the UDD, which draws its support largely from the rural poor who helped Thaksin twice win election landslides, accuse Surayud and Thailand's powerful elite of hypocrisy.

"Double standards"

"We are here because there is a double standard in law enforcement," protest leader Supon Attawong said on a makeshift stage near Surayud's house, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.

"This area was meant to be allocated to the landless. What is this if not unlawful privilege?"

The UDD is planning a prolonged anti-government rally while the pro-Thaksin Puea Thai party prepares for a censure debate, probably in February, to exploit cracks in Abhisit's coalition. It comes ahead of a court verdict on whether to confiscate $2.3 billion of assets belonging to the Shinawatra family.

The UDD insists it is a pro-democracy movement opposed to the domination of Thai politics by royalist business elites, the military and the aristocracy, elements they say have conspired to remove governments elected by the majority.


Reuters


Last Mod: 11 Ocak 2010, 15:04
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