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Thailand protests

For more than three years Thailand has been gripped by a paralysing political crisis centred on former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Thaksin was ousted from office in a military coup in September 2006, and the tug-of-war between his supporters and opponents has continued ever since. Neither side can accept the other's view of who should run the country, and each has staged long-running protests to push their cause.

When Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was chosen as prime minister in December 2008, some Thais hoped the protests had finally come to an end. But it appears the crisis is far from over.

Where is Mr Thaksin now?
Mr Thaksin describes himself as a citizen of the world, and he is often in Dubai, China, the UK or Hong Kong. If he did come back to Thailand, he would face two years in jail after being found guilty in a conflict of interest case.

His long-term aims are unclear. In the past he has said he will not re-enter politics, but he has also said he is needed to lead Thailand out of the economic crisis.

He created tensions in November 2009 by accepting a position as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government, angering the authorities in Thailand.

He remains actively involved in politics, through the rallies of his red-shirted supporters. These rallies have prompted a vague offer of talks from the Abhisit government, which he has so far rebuffed.


Contributed by: Our Special Correspondent 
City: San Francisco 
Country: USA
Date: March 24, 2010
SJ315201004

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