ASEAN+6 Summit Cancelled as Thailand Breaks into Chaos
April 11, 2009 (EIRNS)Thailand erupted into chaos Saturday, as heads of state from the ten ASEAN Nations and six other nations were evacuated by helicopter from the site of the ASEAN+6 Summit in Pattaya. Mass demonstrations by supporters of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, called the Red Shirts, surrounded the Pattaya resort hotel where the Summit was taking place on Friday, presenting a letter to the Summit attendees and then withdrawing peacefully. However, on Saturday morning a group of "blue shirts" showed up to provoke a violent confrontation with the demonstrators, a provocation which led to the Red Shirts entering the hotel. At that point, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva gave up on his foolish decision to hold the Summit in the midst of a social revolution, cancelled the meeting, and evacuated the heads of state and their delegations. (The "Plus Six" are China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.)
Sources in Thailand report that the blue shirt provocateurs were deployed by Newin Chidchob, who led a faction in deserting the pro-Thaksin coalition last year to support the opposition Democrats, allowing the Parliamentary appointment of Abhisit as Prime Minister despite his minimal popular support. The demonstrations have demanded new elections, which would easily go to the broad based supporters of Thaksin.
Abhisit declared a state of emergency, but lifted it within about 12 hours. reports indicate that the military is split, and a sustained state of emergency would not have been enforcable.
Abhisit is disgraced internationally, and will likely be forced to either step down in favor of another Democrat, which would be unacceptable to the population, or call elections.
Even more important, the demonstration targetted the King's Privy Council leaders, headed by retired General and former Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanond, to be ousted as the masterminds of the three coups and corrupt constitution imposed under the temoporary military rule after the first coup. If Prem and his cohorts are ousted, the monarchy as it is now organized will not likely survive, at least not beyond the death of the aging and sickly current King Bhumipol Adulyadej.
The new year Songkran festival takes place over the coming week. Demonstrations will likely be on hold until after the holiday.