Thai street protests return

Mixing red and yellow is supposed to make orange. In Thailand, it usually makes for political uncertainty and that is certainly the case right now.

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    Mixing red and yellow is supposed to make orange. In Thailand, it usually makes for political uncertainty and that is certainly the case right now.

    Protest season has arrived again, as the country's seemingly endless cycle of upheaval takes another turn, with people gathering on the streets of Bangkok to challenge the establishment.

    Last week, it was the so-called Yellow Shirts who protested outside parliament, successfully blocking MPs entering the House to debate national reconciliation bills, which were subsequently postponed by the speaker.

    The anti-government group claims the bills are designed to clear Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, of his crimes, after he was sentenced to two years jail in absentia following the coup in 2006.

    The suspension of the bill readings followed outrageous behaviour in parliament by some MPs from the opposition Democrat Party, who on consecutive days pushed and shoved their way to the front of the room to confront the speaker.

    The opposition MPs showed their disgust at what they believe is an attempt by the ruling Pheu Thai Party to bring Thaksin, its de-facto leader, back from self-imposed exile as a free man.

    This week, it's been the turn of government supporters who gathered at the same place, outside parliament, to call for the impeachment of Constitutional Court judges who ordered parliament to suspend the reading of another bill, designed to pave the way for the writing of a new charter to replace the military-backed edition drawn up in 2007.

    Judicial coup

    Some in the government claim a judicial coup is under way as the court has no jurisdiction over parliament.

    It is a cliche, but history tends to repeat itself in Thailand and it seems Thaksin himself is now having a case of deja-vu. He's been down this road before, having had two of his previous parties disbanded by the courts and their executive members banned from politics.

    If the constitutional court agrees with complaints from opposition MPs that the push to amend the constitution is in fact unconstitutional, the ruling Pheu Thai party could be dissolved.

    In a speech made via the internet to a recent Red Shirt gathering, Thaksin's tone had changed significantly. He spoke of their power being taken away again and the fact that reconciliation wasn't possible anytime soon.

    After having reportedly done deals with sections of the military and elite to allow his party to form the government after winning last year's election, something appears to have gone wrong.

    We can only hope the result of which is not more violence.


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