Chaos, Uncertainty Continue Amid Thailand’s Latest Political Crisis

Chaos, Uncertainty Continue Amid Thailand’s Latest Political Crisis

BANGKOK, Thailand – Just inside the barricades surrounding Bangkok's besieged Government House, a newspaper photo spread taped to a tarpaulin shows the grisly scene that erupted there early last week: police in riot gear squaring off with gangs of protesters in red and yellow; a man shooting a slingshot into the crowd; another grimacing while blood oozes from his face and head.

But more than a week after that clash between supporters of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and the opposition People's Alliance for Democracy, which killed one and wounded more than 40, the mood has lightened among protestors. The indecisive contest of wills between the parties is now in its second week, and the country is preparing for a parliamentary vote on Friday that could either replace the prime minister or see him reelected, but either way many not end the current protests.

Late last week, some People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters lounged in tents and watched the movement's leaders on televisions or on giant screens in the streets. Vendors hawked everything from food and drink to t-shirts emblazoned with the slogans of the PAD's "New Politics" mantra, as well as doormats and slippers making fun of Samak, and yellow hand-shaped noisemakers. A drum circle played on one street while, from a nearby stage, a band played to onlookers clapping their noisemakers to the beat.

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