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Thailand ‘back’ after unrest, PM says on first overseas trip

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2010 at 10:18 am

HO CHI MINH CITY, June 6, 2010 (AFP) – Thailand is “back” after recent deadly unrest, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday on his first trip abroad since the end of crippling anti-government protests.

“We are back, stable and secure,” he told the World Economic Forum on East Asia, a gathering of global business leaders and regional politicians.

Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva (L) speaks as Vietnamese PM Nguyen Tan Dung listens during the World Economic Forum on East Asia being held in Ho Chi Minh City on June 6, 2010. AFP PHOTO

Thai troops moved on May 19 against the fortified encampment which “Red Shirt” anti-government protesters had occupied in an upscale retail and hotel district of central Bangkok.

The move brought an end to street demonstrations and outbreaks of violence which, at their climax, turned parts of Bangkok into battlezones, left major buildings torched, and led to travel warnings from foreign governments.

Unrest also spread to the Reds’ stronghold in the impoverished northeast.

Eighty-nine people, mostly civilians, and nearly 1,900 were wounded in violent outbreaks during two months of protests.

Abhisit said he would not have been able to attend the World Economic Forum if it had been held two weeks earlier and his presence demonstrated that Thailand will “try to do our part in contributing to regional growth”.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), had earlier voiced relief that the violence had abated, following fears that it could threaten regional stability.

“Now that they have gone through that period, and stability seems to come back and reconciliation is now in progress… I think I can say that all ASEAN states heave a big sigh, that we are relieved,” secretary general Surin Pitsuwan told reporters on the sidelines of the forum.

In a rare statement about the internal affairs of a member state, ASEAN on May 21 said peace and stability in Thailand were crucial to the 10-member bloc.

The “Red Shirt” protesters, mostly urban and rural poor, were demanding an end to Abhisit’s government which they see as undemocratic.

Despite the optimistic tone he brought to the Vietnam forum, in his weekly television address at home on Sunday, he said it was too early to lift a two-month-old state of emergency in place across about one third of the country, including Bangkok, because of fears of fresh unrest.

“We have to accept that even though the situation seems to be more back to normal now, the problems of terrorism and security still exist,” Abhisit said in the television address.

Source: SGGP

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