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Pattaya under siege as ASEAN summit cancelled

View of Pattaya in Chonburi

The summit of the ASEAN+3 heads of state has been cancelled after militant protestors stormed the the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, terrorising the delegates and forcing an evacuation by helicopter of the VIPs. A state of emergency had been temporarily declared as the government battles with red shirted members of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (DAAD) that is calling for their resignation.

Riot police failed to properly secure the area as a mob of approximately 10,000 massed at the site, threatening to stop the conference and accusing the government of being illegitimate. In a huge embarrassment to the country, the summit was abandoned when the protestors broke through the glass doors of the media centre, creating chaos.

The protestors had moved to Pattaya on instructions from leaders, including fugitive ex PM Thaksin Shinawatra after a week of disruptive protests at Government House in Bangkok. It is part of a democratic crisis that follows on from the protest and airport seizure last year.

The state of emergency was lifted hours later, after the delegates were airlifted to safety and the prostestors withdrew, claiming ‘victory’. By late Saturday evening most of the prostestors had returned to Bangkok and Pattaya had returned to normal. However the situation in Bangkok remains uncertain.

Tourists planning visits to the South are not considered at risk, and despite the damage to Pattaya’s reputation it has now been left alone in the current crisis, and visitors are unlikely to experience any further inconvenience in the city but transportation might be disrupted to and from the capital if the situation develops further.

The crisis stems from the dissolution last year of the ruling party on vote fraud charges. They were seen as allied to ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, disposed in the 2006 coup. After the dissolution the opposition formed a government with a key faction of the previous government who crossed the floor to help form a minority led coalition. The DAAD (UDD) are unwilling to accept this.

-TN

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