Abhisit Leads Rajaprasong Rally

BANGKOK/ UDON THANI—Thailand’s Democrat Party on Thursday night used a controversial Bangkok election rally to focus on the perceived threat posed by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, while divesting the government and security forces of responsibility for the deaths and destruction wrought during the March-May 2010 “Redshirt” protests.

“If you want to get rid of the poison that is Thaksin, then you should vote for us to get more than 250 seats,” said outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, rounding off a five-hour rally held at the same Rajaprasong intersection which the Redshirts blockaded for much of their two-month rally last year.


A Thai Democrat party supporter wears a mask of Thai Prime Minister and the party leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva, during a campaign rally in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 23, 2011. (Photo: AP)

Thaksin Shinawatra won successive elections as head of the Thai Rak Thai [Thais Love Thais] party in the early 2000s, but some Thais viewed his governing style as mercurial and overly authoritarian, with whispers that his popularity, particularly in rural areas in the country’s north and northeast, posed an implicit challenge to the country’s monarchy. He was ousted in a September 2006 coup, and though the party backed by him from abroad formed a government after a 2007 election, this entity was in turn removed from office after a combination of Yellowshirt street protests and court decisions paved the way for coalition partners to defect to the Democrat side.

Thursday night’s crowd of perhaps 6,000 to 7,000 howled and gesticulated with derision when clips of Thaksin Shinawatra were shown, interspersed with clips of Redshirt leaders and scenes of violence from the 2010 rally, on the two video screens to the right of a stage bedecked in Thailand’s national flag. The Democrats accuse Thaksin of hindering reconciliation in Thailand, and say that a Pheu Thai [“For Thais”] government would include senior Redshirts, some of whom the Democrats have accused of terrorism.

The rally opened with Abhisit’s deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, giving an audio-visual presentation during which he outlined what his party deems as the truth behind the events between March 12 and May 19, 2010, when the Thai army launched what turned out to be a bloody crackdown on the remaining Redshirts at Rajaprasong and the surrounding streets.

Controversially, Suthep claimed that “No one died at Rajaprasong on May 19 last year”, and accused Redshirt leader Jatuphon Prompan of complicity in the shooting of Seh Daeng, the nom de guerre for a Thai army officer who was aligned with the Redshirts, who was assassinated by an unknown sniper while talking to foreign media at the rally site.

Story continued here (www.irrawaddy.org)

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