- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thailand’s long-running political conflict reached another watershed Saturday as anti-government demonstrators forced the cancellation of a summit of Asian leaders. Here are key recent developments:

Feb. 9, 2001 _ Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications mogul, is elected prime minister.

November 2005 _ Weekly anti-Thaksin rallies begin, drawing thousands of people accusing his government of corruption, abuse of power and suppressing free speech.

Sept. 19, 2006 _ Thailand’s military stages a bloodless coup while Thaksin is overseas and sets up an interim government.

December 2007 _ The People’s Power Party, a proxy for Thaksin’s disbanded party, easily wins general elections and leads a coalition that chooses Samak Sundaravej as prime minister.

May 2008 _ The People’s Alliance for Democracy, comprising middle-class businesspeople and retirees, monarchists and opponents of globalization, launches protests against Samak, accusing him of being Thaksin’s puppet.

Aug. 26 _ Tens of thousands of protesters take over the prime minister’s compound.

Sept. 9 _ Samak is removed from office after a court rules his appearance on a TV cooking show constituted a conflict of interest.

Sept. 17 _ Parliament elects Somchai Wongsawat as prime minister. Protesters say Somchai is also Thaksin’s puppet and vow to stay at the prime minister’s compound until he leaves office.

Oct. 7 _ Police and protesters clash after authorities try to clear the streets around Parliament to allow in lawmakers. One person is killed and hundreds injured.

Oct. 21 _ Thaksin, in self-imposed exile, is sentenced to two years in jail for breaking a conflict-of-interest law.

Nov. 25 _ Members of the protest alliance take over Bangkok’s main airport, halting all flights and stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers. Domestic airport is later seized.

Dec. 2 _ Somchai’s party is found guilty of electoral fraud and dissolved. Somchai is barred from politics for five years. Anti-government protesters declare victory and vacate the airports.

Dec. 15 _ Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is chosen as prime minister in an effort to end political turmoil.

March 26, 2009 _ Pro-Thaksin demonstrators surround prime minister’s office, demanding his resignation and new elections. Protesters say Abhisit came to power illegally.

March 27 _Thaksin accuses Prem Tinsulanonda, top adviser to revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, of being behind the 2006 coup.

April 9 _ Some 100,000 demonstrators bring areas of Bangkok to a standstill, vowing to disrupt the annual East Asian Summit at the beachside resort of Pattaya.

April 11 _ Anti-government demonstrators swarm into the summit venue, forcing its cancellation. Asian leaders leave the beachside conference by helicopter and ships.

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