Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chaos In Thailand

Having spent a week in Thailand on business a few years back, I was interested in the recent political developments in Thailand leading up to today's declaration of a state of emergency by the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The following timeline of events leads us to the current state of affairs (based either on corrupt elections or sore losers):

February 6, 2005: Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) Party wins a second landslide election victory, taking 377 of the 500 seats in parliament.

September 9: State-run television takes a current affairs show hosted by Sondhi Limthongkul, Thaksin’s former business associate, off the air, citing repetition of "unfair" criticism of various parties.

January 23, 2006: Thaksin’s relatives sell their controlling stake in Shin Corp, the telecoms empire he founded, to Temasek, the Singapore state investment firm. The tax-free $1.9 billion sale angers Bangkok’s middle classes and adds momentum to Sondhi’s campaign.

February 24: Thaksin calls a snap election on April 2, three years early and two days before a big anti-government rally.

February 27: Three main opposition parties announce an election boycott after Thaksin rejects their demand for a neutral body to reform the constitution.

April 2: Election is held despite opposition boycott.

April 4: After a strong protest vote, Thaksin meets revered King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, before announcing on national television that he will step down as soon as the next parliament meets.

April 5: Thaksin hands day-to-day power to his Deputy Prime Minister, Chidchai Vanasatidya.

April 26: The three main opposition parties say that they will stand in a new election if April 2 poll is annulled.

May 8: Constitutional Court rules that the election is unconstitutional and a new poll should be held.

May 23: Thaksin takes back reins of power, saying it was time to get back work on economic and security issues.

May 30: Government sets election re-run for October 15. King of Thailand approves the re-run in late July saying he wants a swift end to the crisis.

July 20: Thai army chief unexpectedly re-assigns more than 100 middle-ranking officers thought to be supporters of Thaksin, adding to rumours about divided army and possible coup.

September 19: Mr Thaksin declares a state of emergency after tanks surround Government House.

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