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20 September 2009

Protests hit Thailand as political strife continues

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As thousands of demonstrators marked the anniversary of a 2006 coup in the Thai capital Saturday, a rival group of protesters clashed with police and villagers near the Cambodian border, showing the country's long-running political crisis is far from settled, reported the Associated Press.

In the three years since the coup there have been multiple violent demonstrations, court rulings that have purged two prime ministers from power, and massive damage to the tourist industry after protesters shuttered the airports last year.

The country now appears locked in an endless cycle of protest and counter-protest by supporters and opponents of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in the Sept. 19, 2006 coup on accusations of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for the constitutional monarch. Thaksin himself remains in self-imposed exile, able to rally his followers only by phone.

"Thai politics three years after the coup has become more confused, convoluted, and the stakes have increased. There has been no progress, no headway towards reconciliation and reform," Thitinan Pongsidhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University said this week. "The political situation has become more combustible."



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