Anti-government Thai protestors leave airports after week-long closures

December 3rd, 2008 - 1:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Thai AirwaysBangkok, Dec 3 (DPA) Thousands of anti-government protestors ended their occupation of Bangkok’s two airports Wednesday, ending a week-long siege that crippled the country’s tourism and exports sectors.The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) announced late Tuesday night that it would lift its siege of Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang.

The PAD announcement camer after a constitutional court banned Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from politics for five years for vote buying, forcing him out of his office.

The PAD promised to leave the two airports by mid-day Wednesday.

The demonstrators have also evacuated Government House, which they seized Aug 26.

Suvarnabhunmi, the capital’s new airport that cost $4 billion, was expected to be partially reopened for flights by Friday, in time to mark Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 81st birthday.

Thai Airways International, the national carrier, Wednesday announced plans to resume flights from the airport immediately after midnight Dec 5.

The damage done to the airports’ infrastructure by the PAD’s week-long occupation has yet to be fully assessed, authorities said.

Estimates of the damage done to Thailand’s overall economy by the week-long closure of all flights from the capital, a leading aviation hub for South-east Asia, are incalculable.

Industry sources estimated that the country lost more than $86 million a day from undelivered cargo. Losses to the kingdom’s tourism industry, one of the leading sources of foreign exchange, have been estimated at 100 billion baht ($2.9) in the long term.

While the PAD, a loose coalition of groups united in their hatred of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin and the self-serving politics he came to represent, have claimed a victory it remains unclear if they have succeeded in their ultimate goal of keeping Thaksin and his cronies out of politics.

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