Thailand’s military sticks knife in as election commission rules against Abhisit
April 12, 2010 — Thailand’s Election Commission has recommended the embattled ruling party of Abhisit Vejjajiva be dissolved, potentially handing victory to anti-government protesters who have demanded the prime minister step down.
The ruling comes the same day that Thailand’s influential army chief appeared to back a key demand of the protesters, saying Parliament might need to be dissolved to resolve the country’s violent political standoff.
Anupong Paochinda, Chief of Army:
“If the issue can’t be resolved through political means, I understand that the parliament dissolution has to come, now it seems like I’m involved in politics, I think it would end in dissolution. When to dissolve is for them to discuss, as well as the time frame and constitution amendment. Now I’m too involved. I understand that it will end with parliament dissolution. Some people have suggested a government of national unity, I don’t know. I’ll leave the matter to them. I only want peace, that’s all I’m asking.”
Together, these comments and the election body’s decision could spell the end of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s rule. The commission found the Democrat Party guilty of misusing campaign donations.
Abhisit was seen as having the backing of the military, which has traditionally played an important role in the country’s politics. But his control of security forces has increasingly been called into question as protesters repeatedly marched through the capital.
In the recent clashes 21 people were killed. It was the worst political violence Thailand has seen in two decades.
Red-shirted protesters paraded coffins through Thailand’s capital in a renewed show of contempt for the government.
Prime Minister Abhisit blamed the bloodshed on a small group of troublemakers, whom he called “terrorists”, and continued to refuse to dissolve his government:
Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai Prime Minister:
“Looking at the overview of what’s happening currently, we are able to see clearly that a group of people, whom we can consider as terrorists, had taken advantage of the gathering of innocent people who rallied for democracy and against injustice, and used it as a tool of create unrest in the country, hoping for a major change.”
Post-mortem examinations appeared to contradict the Government’s claim that they were not killed by soldiers.
Autopsies carried out at the Police General Hospital in Bangkok showed that nine of those examined were shot by high velocity weapons in the head, chest or stomach – confirming the impression given by video footage, which shows one unarmed protester dropping to the ground after being struck by a bullet which removed the top of his head.
A Japanese cameraman, Hiro Muramoto of Reuters, also died after being shot in the chest. Source
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Reuters colleagues pay tribute to cameraman Hiro Muramoto, killed in Bangkok’s deadly weekend riots.
Exclusive FRANCE 24 footage shows soldiers firing directly at protesters contradicts the Thai government’s declaration that soldiers only fired live rounds into the air during Saturday night clashes with “Red Shirt”