Protests in Bangkok were rocked by twin explosions in an escalation of the country’s ongoing political crisis. More than two dozen people were injured in the blast, according to Bangkok’s emergency services department.
Protesters have kept a major intersection locked up for the last week, and there are deepening fears that the upheaval is becoming more violent. Yesterday’s blast follows a grenade attack that saw one person killed and some 37 injured. The explosions occurred at Victory Monument, one of seven intersections in Bangkok that protesters have kept plugged as they continue to decry the current prime minister. The violence continued Friday evening as a protester was shot and injured.
Demonstrators want to destabilize Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government and replace it with an unelected council that will ensure the prime minister’s brother, the overthrown Thaksin Shinawatra, cannot possibly return to power.
Thaksin Shinawatra is a telecommunications mogul who was overthrown in a military coup in 2006, and many believe that his sister is simply a puppet manipulated by him. The prime minister has said in the past she is the rightfully elected leader of the country and has called for a snap election February 2.
Suthep Thaugsuban, 64, retired as a politician in order to lead the protests. He is adamant that the current government is responsible for the attacks, and led a march through the city today from Lat Phrao to Kasetsart University. His critics say the retired politico is attempting to create more violence in an effort to get the military to intervene, as it did in the 2006 coup.
Thaksin has been an exile from the country in an effort to escape conviction on charges he is corrupt, while his sister is currently facing an investigation for corruption in a rice subsidy program. Prime Minister Yingluck denies her government’s involvement in the attacks, and Thai police are looking for two men believed to be involved in Friday’s attacks.
As Bangkok was rocked by twin explosions, there seems to be little surprise that the country is once again embroiled in political strife. Thaksin’s political party had successfully called upon rural voters by offering them universal health care, and resoundingly beating the political establishment of the Democrats, who are boycotting the upcoming election as they accuse both Thaksin and the prime minister of corruption.
Prime Minister Yingluck has vowed that the government, the police and the military are united in their efforts to prevent further violence in the already-polarized country. The government and their supports claim that the Democrats have pulled out of the election because they know they don’t have a chance of winning. The Democrats have not won an election in two decades.
There was a mass resignation of Democrats following the dissolution of government December 9, 2013, and many of them have joined the growing protests. At their peak, the protesters numbered 200,000.
With Bangkok rocked by twin explosions Friday, there are concerns that the violence will only continue to gain speed in the troubled country. With both sides pointing fingers at each other, laying blame for the violence that has escalated, it remains to be seen whether things will calm down following the election, or if the trouble will continue.
By Christina St-Jean