Protesters demanding Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s resignation vowed yesterday to target the government’s water supply and cause more disruption to travelers to force him from office after an emergency parliamentary debate failed to resolve Thailand’s political crisis.
Samak canceled an official three-day trip to Japan starting today, the Foreign Ministry said, as thousands of protesters remained camped out at the grounds of his official compound for a sixth day. They have refused to budge until Samak steps down — an outcome he has repeatedly ruled out.
Samak called a special joint session of parliament that lasted 11 hours and ended early yesterday without a solution.
“We are very disappointed that parliament’s special session ended with nothing new,” said Somsak Kosaisuk, a leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, which is organizing the protests. “We have no choice now but to put more pressure on the government.”
Allies of the anti-government protesters from labor unions at utility companies have threatened to switch off water and electricity to certain state offices and were meeting yesterday to plot their strategy.
“The tap water at the national police headquarters and at provincial administration offices will be cut off starting Monday,” said Somchai Srinewest, head of the union at Thailand’s Waterworks Authority, ahead of the meeting.
Hundreds of employees from the State Railways of Thailand continued a strike that halted service yesterday on 93 train lines, cutting off most long-distance service between Bangkok and the far-northern and southern parts of the country, said spokesman Phairath Rojjaroenngam. More than half of the 76 cargo trains scheduled yesterday were also not running.
There was no schedule for restoring service, which has been disrupted since the strike started on Friday.
Embarrassed by the strike and their inability to control it, the rail authority’s seven-member board of directors resigned yesterday, saying they saw no other way to take responsibility for the difficulties the strike has caused to the public, the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, a small bomb exploded in a central Bangkok police booth yesterday. The blast, which occurred shortly after 1am, shattered nearby windows but caused no injuries.
Police blamed it on agitators trying to depict them as incapable of maintaining order in the face of a three-month drive to oust the elected government.
“They want to show that the government and the police are too weak to protect the people,” said national police spokesman Surapol Thuanthong. “It is something we expected would have happened.”
The bomb detonated shortly after the end of a joint parliament session initiated by Samak to seek a way out of the turmoil that has raised fears of bloodshed and damage to already stuttering economic growth.
Also yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a fourth case against former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, accusing the exiled leader of amending tax policy to enrich his business empire.
Thaksin fled to the UK with his family last month, claiming he would not get a fair trial on the corruption charges mounting against him, but prosecutors have forged ahead with the cases.
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