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Opposition Raises Specter of Civil War in Thailand

Monday, May 4, 2009

CHIANG MAI, Thailand -- Thailand calls itself the Land of Smiles, and is known for its tropical beaches, beautiful mountains, good food and friendly people. But that may soon change. While the happy-go-lucky image of Thailand may be hard for many to shake, political observers -- and the government -- are beginning to take the possibility of a civil war much more seriously.

On April 21, Jakrapob Penkair -- a key leader of the opposition United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and reputedly the man behind this month's violent protests in Bangkok and Pattaya -- announced in a BBC interview that the struggle was not over. The UDD, Jakrapob said, would begin using different tactics, possibly even armed attacks. "I believe the room for unarmed and non-violent means to resolve Thailand's problem is getting smaller every day," he told the BBC. He went on to call for new general elections to allow a democratically elected government to take power. ...

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