Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thailand update: state of emergency and call to resign

Thailand's government cabinet has met in the northern city of Chang Mai. They decided to declare a state of emergency limited to Bangkok's two airports in order to remove the protesters who still block all flights. It is still unclear how and if it will be enforced. Yesterday, the head of the army called the Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsabat, to resign and call snap elections. So it is unclear whether the army will side with the government against the protesters if forced to make a choice. General Anupong refused to enforce a state of emergency to clear protesters from government office two months ago, but the airports are much more important to the nation's economy, and he himself has called the protesters to leave.

An interesting development is that the army has allowed Mr Somchai back in the country (or at least did not bar his return) from an international meeting in Peru yesterday. This seems to suggest that the army does not intend to do a coup as they would have more than likely done it when he was out of the country, as they did to Thaksin in 2006. But maybe there is internal dissent in the army over the course of action to take, so I think all options are still on the table. The showdown continues.

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