Trouble In Thailand: Protesters Clash With Gov’t In Bangkok

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May 17, 2010: The Thai government accepts a cease-fire offer from Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikuwa, following five days of clashes in downtown Bangkok.

The latest unrest comes amid a two-month standoff between the Red Shirts and government forces. The protesters are attempting to unseat Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and force new elections, claiming the Prime Minister came to power undemocratically and through manipulation and intimidation.

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The Red Shirts, who have taken camp in the business district of Bangkok, wish to reinstate Thaksin Shinawatra, who was democratically elected as prime minister twice, but who is now a fugitive after the army ousted him in 2006.

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The protesters are primarily of Thailand’s poverty-stricken classes, and believe the rise to power of Prime Minister Vejjajiva symbolizes the indifference of the Thai elites to the lower classes.

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The deteriorating health of popular Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej could potentially complicate matters if Thailand ends up facing a succession, which threatens to further destabilize the country.

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Thirty-seven are dead and 266 wounded after five days of riots, which brings the total to around 66 dead and 1600 wounded since the clashes began.

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