Thailand Comes off Boil to Slow Simmer

BANGKOK — In what appeared to be a major retreat by the movement to overthrow the Thai government, protesters on Friday said they were abandoning their campaign to shut down Bangkok and would dismantle their blockades of major intersections set up in January.

The leader of the main protest group, Suthep Thaugsuban, told a dwindling number of supporters on Friday night that he apologized for the inconveniences of the blockades and that demonstrators would adopt a new strategy to disrupt the government from a new base in central Bangkok. A statement by the broader protest movement said intersections would be unblocked by Monday “as a token of our appreciation.”

The protesters’ retreat came after an escalation of violence in recent weeks and a rare speech by the powerful head of Thailand’s army on Monday. In the speech he distanced himself from the protest movement’s goals and emphasized the importance of adhering to the country’s Constitution.

NY Times: Fuller

HOWEVER

That order has incensed Buddha Issara who heads his own protest camp at a sprawling government complex in north Bangkok.

He vowed on Saturday to keep protesting even if other sites in the city close.

“I was angry with Suthep’s announcement. We have lost blood and lives and for what? To end it all now?,” said Buddha Issara who is in daily contact with Suthep by telephone but said he does not follow the head protest leader’s orders.

“I will still stay here until national reforms are in place. Suthep can do what he wants.”

Reuters: Sawitta Lefevre

A Buddhist monk reads newspapers inside Lumpini Park where anti-government protesters have set up their tents in Bangkok

A Buddhist monk reads newspapers inside Lumpini Park where anti-government protesters have set up their tents in Bangkok

 

Perhaps this demand by the National Anti-Corruption Commission that the PM appear before it, has something to do with the opposition scale back.  If the point is to disable to current government and attract voters away from it a new tool might do a better job than the old one of stopping daily life in the capitol.

Bangkok, Feb 27: Thailand’s anti-graft body today summoned embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over charges related to a populist rice-pledging scheme, as anti- government protesters demand her ouster amid deadly violence. The charges relate to a controversial rice subsidy scheme that paid farmers above the market price and has run out of funds, adding to Yingluck’s woes as farmers demand their money.
… The NACC says Yingluck ignored warnings that the rice scheme was fostering corruption and causing financial losses. She could face a five year ban from politics if found guilty.

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