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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        14  June  2011

Thai PM optimistic about election

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Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said in Jakarta on Monday that he was "very optimistic" about winning next month's general election.

"We've had very good responses... and I think the Thai people want to move the country forward. They want to see stability and they want to see their problems addressed," he told a news conference at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in the Indonesian capital.

While the election campaign has not been smooth, it has been "orderly", Abhisit said.

"If you were in Thailand maybe a couple of months ago, there's so much speculation about whether elections could actually be held. But if you're in Thailand now, nobody is questioning that," he added.

Abhisit is in the midst of a tough electoral battle against former premier Thaksin Shinawatra's allies in the Puea Thai party, who want an amnesty for politicians who have been charged or convicted if they win the July 3 vote.

Thaksin's youngest sister, political newcomer Yingluck Shinawatra, is Puea Thai's candidate for prime minister, underscoring her brother's ongoing role in Thailand's fractured political landscape.

Her arrival on the scene has reinvigorated an opposition that just weeks ago appeared rudderless, with polls showing her party pulling ahead of Abhisit's establishment-backed Democrats.

A Puea Thai victory could pave the way for the return of Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption. He is also charged with terrorism in relation to unrest in Bangkok last year.

Abhisit warned that an amnesty would be a threat to Thailand stability.

"We don't believe that's the country's priority, we don't believe that's the people's priorities. It can only cause more trouble, controversy and instability," he said.




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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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