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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           8   July  2011

Pheu Thai-red shirt friction gets hot

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The alliance between the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and the Pheu Thai Party is beginning to fall apart as hardline red shirt partisans press their demands.

UDD chairwoman Tida Tawornseth warned yesterday that Pheu Thai, which claimed a landslide election victory, could see its support waning if the group's demands for justice over deadly protests last year are not met.

In an interview, Ms. Tida said the red shirts want a thorough investigation into the army's role in the deaths of red shirt protesters, not an amnesty.

''The future of the red shirts and the Pheu Thai government depends on whether Pheu Thai still governs by listening to the people or not,'' said Ms Tida.

''I hope no one is unwise and ignores the people's voice.''

There have been concerns that military leaders would be cleared of responsibility for last year's clashes with the protesters in exchange for an amnesty for former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Ms. Tida said the red shirts would not spark conflict but added some people were trying to create the impression of division within the movement over a possible amnesty. ''We have never talked about amnesty. This condition has never been spoken about by the red shirts,'' she said.

She said the red shirts see no need for an amnesty because they do not believe they committed any offences. Instead they were victims of the clashes during April and May last year.

''We believe that we are not guilty,'' Ms Tida said, adding that she also wanted the release of red shirt protesters who have been detained since last year's chaos.

While Ms Tida is pressuring Pheu Thai for justice, other core members are calling for the return of favours following the party's overwhelming victory.

Shinawat Haboonpad, also a Pheu Thai unsuccessful list candidate, insisted that red shirt leaders and list MPs-elect Jatuporn Prompan and Natthawut Saikua should be given cabinet seats.

He said Pheu Thai cannot refuse the red shirt leaders what they deserve and use criticism of them as an excuse. Some Pheu Thai leaders have raised questions about the suitability of Mr. Jatuporn and Mr. Natthawut to be appointed as cabinet members.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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