Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has warned of the “risk of clashes and losses” in exercising the option of a security operation to evict thousands of anti-government protesters from the streets of Bangkok.
Mr. Abhisit was speaking in the Thai capital ahead of a Cabinet meeting on the crisis caused by seven consecutive weeks of rallies and protests. He said the government, seized of the impact of the crisis on the economy and image, was aware that “what needs to be done must be done”.
The already-year-long anti-Abhisit protest began on March 12, and Bangkok and surrounding areas have remained under an emergency decree for several weeks. Attempts by the security forces, including military personnel, to end the wave of protest resulted in clashes, with at least 25 people, including a few soldiers, being killed. In the most recent clash, the protesting United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) said a soldier died in “friendly fire” among the security forces. The authorities later said they would neither accept nor deny that such “friendly fire” occurred.
The UDD comprises apolitical pro-democracy activists and the loyalists of Thaksin Shinawatra, military-deposed and now-fugitive civilian leader in self-imposed exile. And, the UDD attracted much criticism after some activists invaded a major hospital in Bangkok in a pre-emptive bid to deprive the security forces of access to those premises for launching an “attack” on the nearby camp-site of the “democracy movement” in the capital's commercial district. Mr. Abhisit had vowed action to stop the “terrorising and intimidating protesters” in their tracks.