Red shirted protestors have massed at strategic points in Bangkok’s administrative and commercial districts, demanding the government step down. The protests have moved from the original assembly site to key installations and intersections in the city, turning militant and causing major disruptions to commuters. Visitors to the capital are at risk of inconvenience although no violence has been experienced.
The United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (DAAD), or ‘Red Shirts’ have been agitating for a dissolution of the Government that came to power just four months ago, unhappy with the minority coalition government which they claim is not the will of the majority. They are being led on by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who is currently in exile to avoid a corruption conviction. For the second time in five months Thailand has lurched into a deep crisis, as neither side respects the current democratic process. It’s having a debilitating effect on the economy and tourism.
The situation in Bangkok remains unstable, with several country’s issuing travel advisory warnings. Protests have also been taking place without violence in cities of the North and Northeast, including Chiang Mai, but the south is peaceful. Tourists in Phuket, Krabi and Samui have not experienced any inconveniences, airport closures or protest action.
More than 100,000 red shirt supporters have assembled in Bangkok, mainly targeting Government House and some administrative buildings in the Dusit area, but have set some ambitious deadlines for their demands to be met, which might prompt action from riot police and military. They are also threatening to disrupt the ASEAN+3 summit in Pattaya over the weekend.
Many Bangkok resident have left the capital to go to their family homes for the long Songkran festival that runs until April 15th. The prime minister declared Friday 10th an additional holiday to side-step the prostestors, who are causing havoc to Bangkok’s traffic congestion. The situation remains unclear.