Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday urged people to remain calm after a week of deadly protests and an assassination attempt pushed the nation to the edge of chaos.
Abhisit vowed the government would bring to justice those responsible for Friday’s attack on Sondhi Limthongkul, the leader of the so-called “Yellow Shirt” movement who led a blockade of Bangkok’s airports last year.
The bid to kill Sondhi came days after rival “Red Shirts” — supporters of ousted former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra — clashed with troops in riots in Bangkok that left two people dead and 123 injured.
“I call for all sides to remain calm,” Abhisit said in his weekly national television address. “Anyone who tries to incite further unrest, intimidation and underground struggling is jeopardizing our country and democracy.”
The premier said he had to keep a state of emergency in place in Bangkok and surrounding areas for now to maintain order, but added that the government was “speeding up work in order to lift it.”
He asked supporters of Sondhi’s movement, the royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), to avoid using the assassination attempt as a pretext for taking to the streets again.
“This case will be resolved in a straightforward manner and as soon as possible, so I ask all those who support the PAD to be calm and don’t make any movement,” he said.
Abhisit said he had ordered the national police chief to speed up the investigation into the attack on Sondhi and also to find key “Red Shirt” leaders accused of inciting the unrest.
Gunmen raked Sondhi’s car with automatic weapons fire on Friday, wounding him, his driver and an aide.
Doctors said Sondhi had left intensive care yesterday and was able to eat and walk by himself following an operation to remove a bullet fragment from his skull.
The PAD has said it believed “men in uniform” were to blame, a suspicion echoed by local media.