Thai opposition regroups to bring back Thaksin

Opposition leader declared to thousands he would bring back toppled premier Thaksin Shinawatra from exile if his party is voted back into power.

Thai opposition regroups to bring back Thaksin

On a stage in a muddy soccer field in Thailand's rural heartlands, an opposition leader declared to thousands he would bring back toppled premier Thaksin Shinawatra from exile if his party is voted back into power.

Hundreds of red shirts have been detained under emergency rule since the unrest that killed 91 people, mostly protesters, and wounded nearly 2,000. Several opposition websites, radio stations and a TV broadcaster were shut. Red-shirt bank accounts have been frozen. Protest leaders face "terrorism" charges.

Emergency rule was declared in Bangkok and many areas. But in the rice-growing farmlands of Si Sa Ket bordering Cambodia and other provinces where the decree has been lifted, Thailand's political opposition is regrouping.

The fiery rhetoric at the recent campaign stop in Si Sa Ket, 600 km (370 miles) northeast of Bangkok, demonstrate how the anti-government movement is shifting from street-protest tactics to election campaigning, while retaining, at least in the heartlands, one of their most controversial goals: the return of the twice-elected Thaksin.

"If you want everyone to be treated the same way under the eye of the law, vote Puea Thai! If you want to see democracy and equality, vote Puea Thai! If you want Thaksin back, vote Puea Thai!," Puea Thai Party's Chalerm Ubumrung told cheering supporters.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said elections could be held early next year if the political situation is "stable". His Democrat Party hopes heavy government spending and economic stimulus packages will lift its popularity.

"If we win back power through yet another election, what are they going to do? What trick do they have in the hat this time?" Chalerm told Reuters on the sideline of the campaign.

He was referring to a coup that ousted twice-elected Thaksin in 2006 and several court rulings which toppled two prime ministers and disbanded two parties allied with him, paving the way for Abhisit's rise in 2008 with tacit military backing.

Puea Thai said it is confident it could win back at least 255 in the 480-seat lower house, enough to form a single-party government. But analysts say the election is likely to be contentious and winning a landslide would be difficult.

A 32-seat Bhumjai Thai Party, allied with the government, is poised to win 50-60 seats in the next poll after defections from several parties. It campaigns on a royalist platform, accusing Thaksin of habouring a republican agenda, a taboo in Thailand.

Puea Thai is campaigning on Thaksin's platforms such cheap loans and universal healthcare.

That sums up their main selling point: the rehabilitation of the Thaksin and the promise to end what the red shirt protesters view as "double standards" in law enforcement and the dominance of the ruling elite in politics.

"I will vote for them no matter what, because they will bring back Thaksin," said Metha Panchaisi, a 55-year-old rice farmer, who attended the rally.

"I want to see how they will discard our votes this time. Another coup? Another court ruling? What now?."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Ağustos 2010, 17:21