Thaksin supporters, detractors clash again

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Monday August 21, 2006

Bangkok- The leader of Thailand's opposition Democrat Partycalled for restraint Monday as the second scuffle in as many daysbroke out between pro- and anti-factions of caretaker Prime MinisterThaksin Shinawatra. Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva Monday called onsupporters and protesters of Thaksin to refrain from using violenceas the October general election nears. The country's three leading opposition parties boycotted Aprilpolls amid calls for political reforms to put in place newconstitutional checks on Thaksin, accused by his critics of hijackingThailand's democratic system with his vast wealth and self-centredstyle of leadership. The prime minister's public engagements have been increasinglymarred by rowdy critics with six protestors injured after a scufflewith his bodyguards on Saturday after Thaksin appeared at a Bangkokshopping mall to open a book fair. On Monday, tempers and fists again flared between supporters anddetractors after the prime minister left Central World Plaza shoppingmall where he opened a digital learning centre, though no injurieswere reported.Adding to the tension are rumours that there is an assassinationplot against Thaksin, a former billionaire telecommunicationsentrepreneur who has dominated Thai politics for the pastfive-and-half-years. Interior Minister Kongsak Wanthana said Monday there arecredible if unconfirmed reports of an assassination conspiracy,according to the Thai News Agency. Kongsak offered no further explanation, but added there was noneed to strengthen the prime minister's security entourage, which wasalready "sufficient." Thaksin, despite winning his elections with big majorities, hasrepeatedly claimed that people are out to kill him. Critics sayThaksin is trying to raise sympathy to spread the belief that,despite his wealth and power, he is an underdog. Eyebrows were raised when Thaksin surrounded himself with hundredsof bodyguards, police and marines when he made a routine visit to theseaside resort of Pattaya in 2003. His aides claimed at the time thatdrug dealers angry over a narcotics crackdown were out for his blood. A month ago Thaksin brushed off the assassination rumours as"something I have to live with. I don't want the people to worry."

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur