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A battle looms
Thousands Converge on Bangkok as Thai Crisis Escalates

Thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters are converging on Bangkok after two lawsuits against the (now former) Prime Minister found her guilty of corruption and abusing her position. Yingluck Shinawatra, the head of the populist Pheu Thai party, now no longer has a formal role in the government. She faces a five-year ban from politics and potential criminal proceedings in connection with the two cases against her, one brought by a corruption investigation agency and the other by the Constitutional Court. She could end up in exile along with her brother, Thaksin, also a former Prime Minister. But the Shinawatras’ supporters are reluctant to let her enemies push her from office, and are mobilizing for a fight.

Three grenade attacks—one targeting a judge on the Constitutional Court panel—added to a palpable feeling of anxiety in Bangkok as rival protest groups prepare for all-out rallies. The anti-government PDRC is mobilizing supporters from the south of the country and gathering in Bangkok for a rally PDRC leaders expect will last several days. Rival leaders from the pro-government UDD have called for a “show of force” in response. One said he expects 100,000 supporters to make an appearance. They have asked Yingluck to join their march in Bangkok, which will target ”the invisible hands” responsible for ousting her from office. “This is the first time both sides will protest near each other and each have hardcore elements, which is extremely worrying,” a political analyst told Reuters.

Yingluck faces an assault that her family must be accustomed to by now. She was found guilty of corruption in connection with the government’s ruinously expensive rice-buying scheme, and if she is banned from politics, she’ll join her brother, several other members of her family, and about 150 political allies. The Constitutional Court, which found her guilty in another case on Wednesday, also brought down two other pro-Shinawatra administrations in 2008.

Thailand’s crisis is far from over.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that what’s going on in Thailand is a struggle between the majority and the urban elite. As TAI recently pointed out, the objective of the elite is to prevent an election which they would lose.

    • Jim__L

      They should take a page from American politics, where the Majority only gets its way when we happen to agree with the Elites.

      • Andrew Allison

        In the US, we don’t try and prevent elections, we just hide bad news until after them. Just as it did before the 2012 election, for example, the current (mal)administration has delayed implementation of part of ACA (the employer mandate) which will be unpopular until after the mid-term election. We the people elect the government majority, and get the government we deserve.

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