Thailand: Violence Versus Votes

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August 26,2008:  The current government continues to pursue corruption charges against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (who was deposed in a 2006 coup). The current government, run by members of the coalition that had elected Shinawatra, are opposed by a smaller, largely urban and better educated, coalition, This "urban" coalition is angry at not having the votes to gain control of the government, and is using increasingly violent demonstrations in the capital to get what they could not obtain in elections. Today, a mob attacked a pro-government TV station, and shut it down for a few hours.

The coalition in power is largely rural, and the urbanites see the rural population as ignorant, uninformed and not fit to rule. The government is weakened by its unpopular (with many of its own members) pursuit of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra  on corruption charges. Meanwhile, about a hundred wealthy families exercise disproportionate control over the economy, and politics. Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was one of these wealthy men, who also demonstrated a talent for winning elections. All the unrest has caused the economy to stall, going to about one percent annual GDP growth, from an expected five percent. The increased unemployment will generate more unrest.

The war against Islamic terrorism in the south is being won, slowly. More and more of the terrorists are being identified and arrested, and the number of violent incidents is decreasing.

August 25, 2008: Six soldiers were wounded when a bomb went off in the south.

August 24, 2008: Over the last few days, police have arrested eight suspected terrorists in the south. The search continues for the Islamic terrorist cell responsible for the current round of bombings.

August 21, 2008: Two bombs went off in the south, killing a reporter and wounding 30 other civilians. The second bomb was planted near the first, and timed to go off after the police and media arrived.

August 16, 2008: A large bomb cut the main rail line to the south.

August 15, 2008: The government has agreed, with Cambodia, to withdraw most of the their troops from the border, where there has been a confrontation over exactly where the border is, and who controls an ancient temple.

August 13, 2008: In the south, a bomb planted at a crime (murder) scene, wounded 18 (most of them police investigators.)

 

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