The Eye of the Storm in Thailand?

The Eye of the Storm in Thailand?

CHIANG MAI, Thailand -- Calm descended on Thailand Tuesday, following a decision by its Constitution Court to dissolve the ruling People's Power Party (PPP) and two of its coalition partners for electoral fraud.

Protesters calling themselves the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) had initially called for the PPP to step down, calling it a proxy party for ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his dissolved Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party. They also called on the PPP to stop its attempts to amend the constitution to remove a clause banning 111 former TRT leaders for electoral fraud. The billionaire telecom tycoon was ousted in a military coup in 2006. Thaksin initially returned from exile, only to flee the country shortly thereafter when it became apparent that he would be convicted on charges of corruption and abuse of power while in office.

Demonstrations had already taken a more militant turn in August with the seizure of Government House and had since become increasingly violent. Six people were subsequently killed and numerous others injured in bomb attacks and clashes with the police. Tensions came to a head last week when demonstrators seized Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Muang domestic airport. The occupations virtually cut the country off from the world, thereby paralyzing its important tourism industry and causing a severe blow to its economy.

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