- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2008

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — A court dissolved Thailand’s top three ruling parties for electoral fraud Tuesday and temporarily banned the prime minister from politics, bringing down a government that has faced months of strident protests seeking its ouster.

The Constitutional Court ruling set the stage for thousands of protesters to end their weeklong siege of the country’s two main airports, but also raised fears of retaliatory violence by supporters of the government, which could sink the country deeper into crisis and cripple its economy.

Protest leaders said a decision on whether to end the airport protests — and allow hundreds of thousands of stranded travelers to leave the country — would be made later Tuesday.

However, the government said the main Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok will remain closed to passenger flights until Dec. 15, although the airport reopened to cargo flights Tuesday.

Members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, occupying Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport, cheered and hugged after they heard news of the ruling.

“My heart is happy. My friends are very happy,” said Pailin Jampapong, a 41-year-old Bangkok housekeeper choking back tears as she jumped up and down.

Government spokesman Nattawut Sai-kau said Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his six-party ruling coalition would step down.

“We will abide by the law. The coalition parties will meet together to plan for its next move soon,” he told The Associated Press.

Somchai had become increasingly isolated in recent weeks. Neither the army, a key player in Thai politics, nor the country’s much revered king had offered him firm backing. Since Wednesday, he and his Cabinet had been working from the northern city of Chiang Mai, a government stronghold.

Somchai accepted the ruling with equanimity.

“It is not a problem. I was not working for myself. Now I will be a full-time citizen,” he told reporters in Chiang Mai.

___

Associated Press reporters Jocelyn Gecker, Vijay Joshi and Mick Elmore contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide