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February 22, 2012

RA’s Thailand News Blast – Feb 22, 2012

A month after the U.S. Embassy in Thailand warned that ‘foreign terrorists’ were plotting to attack the capital, an Iranian man was critically injured after throwing grenades at police in Bangkok.  Abhisit urged Yingluck to investigate recent bomb scares (five additional bombs were reportedly found) as soon as possible, expressing fears about terrorism.  Iranian tourists will have their right to apply for visa on arrival suspended until the bomb incidents have been cleared up.  The Israeli Prime Minister blames Hezbollah in Iran for the incidents, as an Iranian Foreign Minister called them an Israeli set-up.  Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak says that this has nothing to do with Hezbollah.  Chavanond is not so sure, suggesting that the government pay careful attention to tensions between the U.S., Israel and Iran; Chalerm contradicted this.  The army commander, General Thanasak, has ordered the navy to monitor government buildings.  The Defense Minister says that there is still not enough evidence to discern whether or not the bombs were organised by MKO.

The fallout from Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel continues.  Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva wants to know why Yingluck went to the hotel during working hours, and his party member Thepthai is demanding that the government explain the meeting.  Democrat spokesperson Chavanond Intarakomalyasut says that Yingluck should resign over the matter.  The head of property development company Sansiri has admitted meeting Yingluck at the hotel, but says that seven other people were there.  Chalerm insists that there was no conflict of interests arising from the meeting.  In response to Yingluck’s post on her Facebook page about respecting the dignity and honour of Thai women, Chavanond insists that the issue isn’t being raised in order to attack her personally.

Nine human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have presented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with an open letter asking Thailand to allow its freedom of expression to be investigated.  Regarding the constitution law amendment, Abhisit said it was important for the government to be clear on why they wanted to pass any amendments.  Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm says that, apart from the provision about the monarchy, any amendment of the constitution law should be decided by the assembly elected to draft the constitution.  Thaksin Shinawatra’s lawyer says that the amendment of the constitution law has nothing to do with his client.

Tida Tawornseth was elected the new leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), leading to protests from members Kaunchai and Shinwat, who said they wouldn’t accept her leadership.  U.N. diplomats Kofi Anna and Martti Ahtisaari met with Yingluck to discuss strategies for national reconciliation.  Abhisit agrees with Kofi Annan that reconciliation will not be difficult.

PHOTO: Policemen stand on guard during a hearing to extend the detention of Iranian suspect Mohammad Khazaei at Bangkok South Criminal Court February 22, 2012. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom 

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