Protests disrupt ASEAN summit in Thailand

April 11th, 2009 - 10:24 am ICT by IANS  

Abhisit Vejjajiva Pattaya (Thailand), April 11 (DPA) Clashes between anti-government and pro-government supporters Saturday delayed meetings at a summit of the southeast Asian leaders at the Thai seaside resort of Pattaya.
Meetings between South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ministers from China, South Korea and Japan were delayed, but will go ahead, Thai government spokesman Panitan Watanagorn said, rejecting reports that the meetings were cancelled.

Several people were hurt in the clashes and an investigation is underway he added.

“The safety of the leaders and the people attending the conference is of course of utmost concern to us, but we also care for the Thai people,” Panitan said.

The so-called Red Shirt protestors loyal for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra are moving their protests to Pattaya from Bangkok as part of their campaign to unseat the government.

The Red shirts claim Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is an illegitimate leader because he came to power only after the military and the bureaucracy removed pro-Thaksin governments.

“Our people have been hurt but we have severely disrupted the conference. It will be canceled for the sake of democracy,” Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikua said in Bangkok.

Panitan, however, insisted the schedule was close to normal and the summit would not be severely disrupted.

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