Thailand’s biggest opposition party said as many as 50,000 people joined protests yesterday to oppose an amnesty law for political offenses, and predicted numbers will swell today after a contentious parliamentary vote.
Thailand’s decision to expand subsidies for rice and rubber farmers to quell protests is undermining efforts to control rising debt, even as governments in neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia cut back support programs.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra risks a backlash from farmers who helped put her in power after cutting guaranteed rice prices following criticism that the program put the country’s finances at risk.
When Thailand’s army ousted Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, generals hailed the coup as bloodless. Four years on, clashes between troops and his followers left 85 people dead, a capital in flames and a nation broken in two.
A Thai court dismissed charges that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva ’s ruling Democrat party misused state campaign funds, clearing one of two cases that may see him become the third leader forced out since the 2007 election.
Thailand’s political calm hangs in the balance as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ruling party decides whether to defy the nation’s highest court and proceed with an overhaul of a military-influenced constitution.
Thai security forces stopped anti- government protesters from rallying north of the capital in clashes that killed one soldier, raising tensions in a seven- week standoff that has paralyzed Bangkok’s commercial center.
Thailand’s worst floods in at least 50 years may slow economic growth and cause $1.6 billion of damage, posing the first leadership test for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra since she took office two months ago.
Thais will decide the outcome today of the latest round in a feud that has dominated the country’s politics for a decade and which polls say will be won by allies of Thaksin Shinawatra, the man at the center of the divide.