With tanks and anti-government protesters vying for control of Bangkok’s streets, Thailand appears on the brink of civil war.
A state of emergency has been declared in the capital and the government has indicated there will be a military crackdown if the demonstrations continue. The protesters are supporters of Thaksin Shinawtra. The former prime minister, who was ousted in 2006, has said he will return to lead an uprising if there is another coup. The country’s history is littered with military takeovers. The unrest reached boiling point in the capital on Sunday, with Thaksin’s followers besieging government buildings and attacking the prime minister’s car. That was in response to his declaration of emergency law in Bangkok, and an announcement of measures against the opposition leadership. The disruption of an Asian summit by anti-government activists on Saturday prompted Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to take action. A number of people have been injured in the disturbances but so far no deaths have been reported. As night fell the opposition supporters appeared to be settling in for a vigil on the streets. Such scenes have characterised the political turmoil in the country in recent months.