Tue, Mar 04, 2014 - Page 6 News List

After leaving streets, Thai protesters look to courts

Reuters, BANGKOK

Anti-government protesters in Thailand have retreated to a central Bangkok park, freeing up traffic after blocking major intersections for more than a month, but Thailand’s four-month political crisis looks no closer to a solution.

The protesters, who moved to Lumpini Park over the weekend after orders from protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, are now banking on judicial intervention from courts hostile to Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to bring down her government.

“Bangkokians are able to go to work more easily, but the state of play in Thailand has not changed since protesters scaled back,” Chulalongkorn University political analyst Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee said. “He [Suthep] realizes that the fate of the government won’t be determined by his group, but lies in the hands of independent organizations — the anti-corruption body and the courts.”

Yingluck faces several legal challenges, the most significant being negligence charges for mishandling a disastrous rice subsidy scheme. Hundreds of farmers joined anti-government protesters in a rally at the Thai Ministry of Finance yesterday, demanding faster payments.

“It seems likely she will be found guilty,” said Kan Yuenyong, an analyst at the Siam Intelligence Unit think tank. “At that point, she will have to suspend her duties if the case goes to court. The endgame that protesters are hoping for is a way to suspend the whole Cabinet so that an interim, so-called neutral, prime minister can be elected.”

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