Thai protestors storm Government House

June 20th, 2008 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, June 20 (DPA) Thousands of anti-government protestors surrounded the Thai cabinet’s headquarters Friday, demanding the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his ministers. The demonstrators of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which led similar mass protests against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, broke through police blockades to force their way into Government House which they had surrounded Friday afternoon.

“PAD protestors have no weapons, so if there is any shooting, it is not by us,” PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang said, urging the demonstrators not to attack police while breaking through their barricades.

The protesters, estimated at 5,000 strong, shouted, “Put Thaksin in prison,” as they took their places outside Government House, which was closed Friday.

The PAD has vowed to camp outside Thailand’s seat of government until Samak and his cabinet resign, accusing them of mishandling the economy and diplomacy, and of acting as “nominees” for Thaksin and his cronies, who were barred from power by a Constitutional Tribunal ruling last year.

A similar siege on Government House in 2006 when Thaksin was prime minister ended with tanks rolling on the streets of Bangkok. The military staged a coup against Thaksin Sep 19, 2006, charging him with corruption, undermining the monarchy and dividing the nation.

After 15 months under a military-appointed government, Thailand held a general election Dec 23, 2007 that was won by the People Power Party (PPP), that promised a return to Thaksin’s populist policies. PPP leader Samak, a right-wing politician, was chosen to head the party because of his close ties with Thaksin.

“We want Samak and his cabinet to get out,” said Janikha Korkhalong, 45, one of the protestors. “Just what this government has done on the Phra Viharn issue is enough reason for them to go.”

The Thai government this week backed a Cambodian proposal to list the Preah Vihear Hindu temple, the subject of a bitter ownership dispute more than 40 years ago, as a Unesco World Heritage Site next month.

The decision has irked many in Thailand who still believe the ancient Khmer border temple - called Phra Viharn by Thais - belongs to their country although the International Court of Justice in The Hague passed it to Cambodia in 1962.

There is a widespread belief that the cabinet approved the Cambodian proposal as part of a Thaksin business deal. Thaksin Wednesday announced plans to invest in a hotel-casino project on Cambodia’s Koh Kong island.

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