Thai pol crisis deepens after crackdown; deputy premier quits

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Bangkok, Oct 7 (UNI) Thailand faces worsening political uncertainty after the government finally ordered a crackdown today on an influential civil society campaign that has effectively paralysed governance for nearly two months.

Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh resigned, accepting responsibility for the police action to clear protesters blocking the entry to Parliament to prevent the government from making its constitutionally stipulated policy statement to the house this morning.

About 90 protesters were injured when police used tear gas and smoke bombs to open the way for Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and lawmakers to enter Parliament building blockaded overnight by thousands of members of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

Police fired tear gas and smoke bombs again later in the day to disperse regrouped PAD cadres who had sealed all exits forcing the Prime Minister and his entourage to escape by climbing over the Parliament fence into an adjoining protected royal property.

The Parliament session was cut short as PAD cadres managed to cut the power supply to the building. The main opposition Democrat Party had boycotted the session in protest against the police action.

Mr Chavalit, a former Prime Minister and top military general, had joined Prime Minister's Cabinet with a mandate to negotiate with PAD leaders and persuade them to let the government continue its work.

PAD members have been forcibly occupying the Prime Minster's Office since late August despite court orders to vacate and arrest warrants against key PAD leaders, forcing the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to work out of Bangkok's former international airport.

The PAD accuses Mr Somchai's People Power Party (PPP)-led government of being a proxy of coup-ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who has sought political asylum in Britain.

The PAD has put forward a controversial 'new politics' proposal that would end the one person-one vote democratic system which it alleges has been abused by Mr Thaksin and the PPP to use money power to win elections.

Meanwhile, Thailand's powerful armed forces' leaders again denied that the political situation warranted military intervention amidst renewed speculation of another military takeover.


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