Thai Foreign Minister quits as protests drag on

Thai Foreign Minister quits as protests drag on
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The political upheaval in Thailand has claimed its first prominent victim: the Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag handed in his resignation, apparently because of his wife’s health problems, but so far it has not been accepted.

Protestors demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister and his whole government continue to keep up the pressure, despite the imposition of a state of emergency in Bangkok.

The protestors called a nationwide strike to heap more pressure on the government, but it had little impact. Power and water flowed despite union threats of cuts, and road and rail links saw little disruption. But it is thought Prime Minister Samak Sunderavej will quit soon:

“Samak’s position appears untenable now,” said Thitinan Pongsidhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “I think his time is up. We are talking about hours and days, perhaps weeks, but not months.”

Critics say Samak is a mere proxy of the ousted former Premier, Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled to Britain to evade corruption charges.

The continuing unrest is having an effect: tourism numbers are down, hurting a sector which is one of Thailand’s major sources of income and employment.

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