Thai Protesters Target ASEAN Summit
10 Apr 09 | AJE
A summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Thailand was set to focus on the global financial crisis, but the meeting has been overshadowed by political unrest. Anti-government protesters are demanding the resignation of the prime minister, and the reinstatement of the previous constitution. Al Jazeera’s Tony Cheng reports from Bangkok (2:51):
The so-called red-shirt protesters have already brought large parts of Bangkok to a standstill with three days of demonstrations calling for Abhisit to stand down.
They are supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted as prime minister in a bloodless 2006 coup and currently in exile.
“We will peacefully block the area and the summit site,” Arisman Pongreungrong, a protest leader, told the Associated Press.
“We do not want any violence.”
They say Abhisit came to power illegally and blame his associates for orchestrating Thaksin’s removal.
They are demanding Abhisit stand down immediately and hold fresh elections.
Abhisit, who has rejected those calls, said on Friday that the summit would continue as planned.
“We will ensure that the meeting will proceed smoothly. I would like to reiterate that we can provide security,” he said.
About 8,000 police have been deployed around the summit venue.
“Nothing untoward will happen to the leaders. We will make sure of that,” Suthep Thaugsuban, the deputy prime minister, said seeking to assure visiting heads of state that they will be safe.
But the meeting has been criticised by human-rights groups who say rights issues will again take a back seat, with Asean leaders sticking to their principle of non-interference in each another’s internal affairs. >>>