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Abhisit Vejjajiva ( ; , , , born 3 August 1964) is the 27th and current Prime Minister of Thailand. He has been the leader of the Democrat Party since February 2005.

Abhisit successfully ran for MP in Bangkok under the Democrat Party following the 1991 NPKC military coup. Abhisit quickly rose through party ranks but failed in a bid to become party leader in 2001. He became party leader after the Party's overwhelming defeat in the 2005 elections.

During the 2005-2006 Thai political crisis, Abhisit asked the then care taker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to resign so that Article 7 of the 1997 Constitution can be invoked. Abhisit boycotted the 2006 elections, claiming that they "diverted public attention" from Thaksin's sale of Shin Corp. Abhisit voiced displeasure at the 2006 coup that overthrew Thaksin, but otherwise did not protest it or the military junta that ruled Thailand for over a year. A fact-finding panel at the Attorney-General's Office found that the Democrat Party bribed other parties to boycott the 2006 elections to force a constitutional crisis, and voted to dissolve the party. The new Constitutiuonal Court acquitted Abhisit and the Democrats of the vote fraud charges, while banning Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party for other charges. Abhisit supported the junta's 2007 Constitution, calling it an improvement on the 1997 Constitution.The Nation, Draft gets Democrats' vote, 9 July 2007 The Democrat Party lost the junta-administered 2007 election to the People's Power Party.

In the crisis that followed, some Democrat Party members acting on their own join People's Alliance for Democracy, which seized Government House, Don Muang Airportmarker, and Suvarnabhumi Airport, while facing violent clashes by the police and anti-PAD protesters. On 19 December 2008, Abhisit voiced displeasure at sieges, but did not stop his deputies from their roles in the PAD because they were merely acting on rights which guarantee by the constitution. The sieges ended after the Constitutional Court banned the People's Power Party. Army commander and co-leader of the 2006 coup, General Anupong Paochinda, allegedly coerced several PPP MPs, including those from the Friends of Newin Group, to defect to the Democrat Party allowing Abhisit to be elected Prime Minister.

Abhisit became Premier during a global economic crisis and faced escalating domestic political tension. During Songkran (the Thai New Year), protesters disrupted the Fourth East Asia Summit. Violent protests then erupted in Bangkok, leading Abhisit to declare a state of emergency, censor some violent-instigating media, and ask the military to stop the protesters. After the red-shirted insurgency collapsed, one PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul was the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt. Both Sondhi's son and Thaksin claimed that factions within Abhisit government were behind the assassination; however, Abhisit's foreign Minister claimed that Thaksin was behind it.Spiegle, 'I'm Like a Rat', 20 April 2009

Family

Abhisit married Dr Pimpen Sakuntabhai, a former dentist and now a lecturer at the Department of Mathematics at Chulalongkorn Universitymarker. They have two children. Abhisit has two sisters: child psychiatrist Alisa Wacharasindhu and author Ngarmpun Vejjajiva.

The Vejjajivas are members of a prominent family of Thai Chinese laos (Hakka) origin that maintained good relationships with the Thai ruling elite from as early as the late 18th century. The family's Chinese surname is Yuan ( ). In the reign of Rama VI, the surname "Vejjajiva was bestowed upon Yuan-clan Lopburimarker provincial physician Sub-Lieutenant Dr. Long ( ), his father and grandfather."

Entry into politics

The National Peace Keeping Council seized power in a military coup in 1991 and appointed Abhisit's father Deputy Minister of Public Health. Abhisit began his political career in the 1992 general elections that followed the coup, becoming a Bangkokmarker MP for the Democrat Party. He was re-elected to the same seat in the 1995 and 1996 general elections. In the elections of 2001 and 2005, he returned to parliament as a Party List MP for the Democrat Party. He has served as Democrat Party spokesman, Government spokesman, Deputy-Secretary to the Prime Minister for Political Affairs, Chairman of the House Education Affairs Committee, and Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Abhisit has occasionally been criticized for relying on his good looks to support his career. Morgan Stanley economist Daniel Lian, in a letter to then PM Thaksin, reportedly asked, "Other than his pretty young face, what else can he offer to the Thai people?" However, The Nation, a local English-language newspaper more sympathetic to the Democrats, responded that "Abhisit’s ammunition is pure decency [and] unrivalled talent.".

Democrat Party leader

In 2001, Abhisit made a bid for party leadership, taking on a seasoned politician Banyat Bantadtan. Abhisit lost. However, Banyat led the Democrats to an overwhelming defeat by Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party in the 2005 legislative elections. Banyat resigned and Abhisit was chosen to replace him.

The Thaksin crisis

When Prime Minister Thaksin called a snap election on 25 February 2006, Abhisit said he was "prepared to become a prime minister who adheres to the principles of good governance and ethics, not authoritarianism." The very next day, however, he announced that the Democrat Party, along with other opposition parties, would boycott the elections. Abhisit joined the Thai Nation Party's Banharn Silpa-Archa and Mahachon Party's Sanan Kachornprasart in claiming that the elections "lacked legitimacy" and were an attempt by Thaksin to "divert public attention" from his tax free sales of the Shin Corporation to Temasek Holdings. Abhisit also said what was likely from the short time allowed "was an election that would yield the outcome Mr Thaksin was expecting."

Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai Party won an overwhelming majority in the virtually uncontested April 2006 election as suspected by Abhisit. In a number of Democrat-stronghold constituencies, fewer than 20% of eligible voters voted, thus not meeting the minimum required by the constitution. The Election Commission planned for by-elections to fill the vacant seats, and decided to allow parties that had previously boycotted the election to contest the by-elections. The Democrat Party sued the Election Commission, claiming that it had no right to allow new parties to contest the by-elections. A constitutional crisis loomed, as the constitution obligated the formation of a new government within 30 days of the election, but a new government could not be formed due to the vacant seats.

2006 election fraud charges

Thai Rak Thai later charged the Democrat Party with bribing other small political parties into boycotting the April 2006 elections. The Democrats denied this allegation and were acquitted of the charges by the Constitutional Tribunal on 30 May 2007.

On 28 June 2006 an 11-member fact-finding panel headed by Deputy Attorney-General Chaikasem Nitisiri voted unanimously to dissolve the Democrat party (as well as the Thai Rak Thai party and 3 other parties) based on evidence that the party bribed other small opposition parties into boycotting the election of 2 April 2006.

In February 2007, candidates from the Progressive Democratic Party testified before the Constitution Tribunal that they were duped into registering for candidacy in the April elections. Three witnesses also testified that Democrat leaders Thaworn Senniam, Wirat Kalayasiri and Jua Ratchasi encouraged protesters to disrupt the registration of candidates during the by-elections after the April 2006 election. Prosecutors contended that the party tried to disqualify the election results and force continuous rounds of by-elections. The defense claimed that the witnesses were hired by the Thai Rak Thai party to discredit the Democrats. Eventually, the Constitutional Tribunal acquitted the Democrat Party of all charges, while finding the Thai Rak Thai Party guilty of the same charges.

Policy platform as Opposition

On 29 April Abhisit announced his candidacy for Prime Minister at the Democrat Party annual convention. He promised an "agenda for people", with education as the main focus. He used the campaign slogan "Putting People First". He also vowed not to privatise basic utilities such as the electricity and water supply and to nationalize state enterprises that Thaksin had already privatized. Regarding core elements of the so-called "Thaksinomics", Abhisit promised "the benefits from certain populist policies, such as the 30-Baht healthcare scheme, the Village Fund and the SML (Small Medium Large) scheme, will not be revoked but instead improved." He later urged that Thaksin's popular 30-Baht healthcare scheme should be replaced with a system where access to medical services is totally free. Abhisit stated that all of future Democrat MPs would have to declare their assets and any involvement in private companies. (By law, only members of the cabinet need to declare their assets.)

Abhisit raised over Bt200 million at the Democrat Party's 60th Anniversary dinner. He outlined several energy policies, including increasing dividend payments from state-owned oil company PTT and using the funds to repay Oil Fund debts and having state-owned electric utility EGAT absorb part of the rising fuel prices. Abhisit later outlined plans to reduce retail petrol prices by eliminating the 2.50 baht/litre tax used to maintain the government's Oil Fund.

On 13 July 2006, Abhisit promised to deal with escalating violence in the South by making the problems in the Southern provinces a public agenda.

Abhisit also promised many populist policies including providing free education, textbooks, milk and supplemental foods for nursery school students and increasing the minimum wage.

2006 military coup

On 19 September 2006, only weeks before the scheduled elections, the military seized power in the 2006 Thailand coup. Abhisit voiced his disapproval of the coup just hours before all political activities were banned:

Abhisit promised the junta-appointed Premier, Surayud Chulanont, his full support. Abhisit also supported the military junta's 2007 draft constitution on the grounds that it was the "lesser of two evils". Abhisit said the Democrat Party considered the new constitution similar to the 1997 Constitution, but with improvements as well as faults. "If we wanted to please the Council for National Security we would reject the draft so it could pick a charter of its own choosing. If we reject the draft, it will be like handing out power to the Council. We have come up with this stand because we care about national interest and want democracy to be restored soon," he said. Acknowledging the flaws of the new Constitution, Abhisit has also proposed, along with asking for cooperation from other political parties, to amend the Constitution once he is in power.

December 2007 election

The Democrat Party was left in the opposition after the December 2007 parliamentary election, as Samak Sundaravej of the People's Power Party was able to form a six-party coalition. In a parliamentary vote on 28 January 2008, Abhisit was defeated by Samak for the post of Prime Minister, receiving 163 votes against 310 votes for Samak.

Rise to Premiership

Following the Constitutional Court of Thailand's removal of prime minister Samak Sundaravej in 2008 for vested interests by taking a salary from a cooking show while in the seat of PM, Abhisit lost the National Assembly vote for Prime Minister by 163 votes to 298 for Somchai Wongsawat, ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra's brother in law. On 2 December 2008, the Constitutional Court banned the three government parties for election fraud, including the PPP, thus dissolved the governing coalition and paving the way for a Democrat-led government. The Court also banned Somchai from politics for five years for his involvement in the scandal as one of PPP's executive board member and removed him from office; he was succeeded by a deputy.

After Somchai was removed and the PPP dissolved, many MPs defected to the Democrat side thus forging a new alliance. Defectors included MPs from the For Thais Party (Puea Thai, the successor of the PPP), the former Chart Thai Party under Sanan Krachonprasat, the Thais United National Development Party, and the Neutral Democratic Party, and the "Friends of Newin" faction of the former Peoples Power Party. The enlarged Democrat-led coalition was able to endorse Abhisit as Prime Minister. Abhisit became Prime Minister after winning a special vote in parliament on 15 December 2008.

Prime Minister of Thailand

Abhisit was formally endorsed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej as Prime Minister on 17 December 2008. Abhisit ascended to power amid a global economic crisis, continued divisions between his PAD/palace/military/urban supporters and UDD/rural critics.

Key appointments in Abhisit's government included PAD leader Kasit Piromya as Foreign Minister, construction tycoon Chaovarat Chanweerakul as Interior Minister, and investment banker and former Abhisit classmate Korn Chatikavanij as Finance Minister. Abhisit, was widely criticized for appointing Kasit as Foreign Minister, defended his selection, saying that “Khun Kasit [Piromya] has been picked for his experience. He has been ambassador to a number of key countries, he’s a very knowledgeable person on the economy. He may have addressed or joined some of the rallies but if he has done anything illegal he will be prosecuted." Massage parlor tycoon Pornthiva Nakasai was appointed Deputy Commerce Minister. Abhisit denied that there was any bargaining or deal-making behind the appointment of his Cabinet.

Abhisit's first act as Prime Minister was to send SMS texts to tens of millions of Thai mobile phone users. The message, signed "Your PM", asked people to help him solve the country's crisis. Interested phone users were asked to send back their postal codes, at a cost of three baht. Abhisit was criticized for violating privacy regulations in the mass SMS. The National Telecommunication Commission says that mobile phone service providers may not exploit client information, including phone numbers, without their consent. However, it did not seek actions against Abhisit.

Rohingya scandal

In January 2009, CNN investigations revealed that up to 1,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmarmarker had been captured by the Thai Navy, beaten, then towed out to sea without engines or navigational aids and with little food and water. Abhisit's initial response was to claim that the media reports were "exaggerated" and that the refugees would "sail on boats without engines or sink their ships so that authorities help them to get onshore.” Army Commander Anupong Paojinda denied the reports of abuse.

On 20 January, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) requested the government for access to 126 surviving boat people in Thai custody. Abhisit said he was "glad to work with international organisations" but that such organizations would have to work on a cooperative basis with proper Thai government procedures. The military said it had “no clear information” about refugees in its custody.

Further media investigations revealed that refugees had very recently been cleared from a detention center but were nowhere to be found. A Thai Navy officerwas interviewed, saying that "We have to take the engines off the boats or they will come back. The wind will carry them to India or somewhere." Abhisit then promised a thorough military-led investigation, but simultaneously issued a blanket denial of abuse on behalf of the military. The investigation was led by the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), the same unit in charge of refugee arrivals.

The ISOC investigation cleared all the government officials involved. Consequently, ISOC continued to be in charge of refugee arrivals.

Abhisit's deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, suggested the entire situation was cooked up to besmirch Thailand's image. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya claimed that the CNN reports were incorrect and called for people not to "believe what the world says about Rohingya."

UNHCR goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie criticised Thai government of ignoring the plight of Rohinyas and suggested that Thai government should take better care of the Burmese ethnics. The Foreign Ministry reprimanded the UNHCR, noting that the UNHCR had "no mandate" and saying that the matter should not be mentioned by it and its "guests." Abhisit was criticized by both Thai and international commentators for defending the military at the expense of protecting the human rights of the refugees. "We are not going to see the Abhisit government going after the military because it was instrumental in his assumption of office," said political scientist Thitinan Pongsudhirak.

Public health

Abhisit continued the Surayud junta's policy of compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals, claiming that it complied with the World Trade Organisation's agreement on intellectual property. As of March 2009, he warned that compulsory licensing would not be expanded if the US downgraded Thailand's trade status.

Information and communications technology

Abhisit's information and communications technology (ICT) policy focused on censorship of internet sites that he considered offensive to the monarchy. His ICT minister, Ranongruk Suwunchwee, met with officials of TOT and CAT (both state-owned telecommunications firms) only once, to inform them of the policy. Long-standing turnaround plans for the struggling state enterprises were not implemented, and the two firms focused on routine operations.

Legislation

The Democrat Party under Abhisit's leadership proposed a stricter new lese majeste law that would make "contemptuous tones" and putting inaccurate content about the Thai monarchy on the Internet a criminal offense with a jail term of between three to twenty years or a fine ranging from 200,000 to 800,000 baht. At the same time, the Democrat Party accused 29 websites of having content and posted comments which they deemed harmful to the monarchy.

Defense

Abhisit approved the purchase of 6 JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft from Sweden, on top of the 6 aircraft purchased by the military junta of Surayud Chulanont. The aircraft will be purchased for 19.5 billion baht.

In a reshuffle of military staff, Abhisit appointed many officers close to Anupong Paojinda and Prayuth Chan-ocha, to senior positions. Officers suspected of being close to Thaksin Shinawatra were, in the words of the Bangkok Post, "purged." Jiradet Mokasmit was appointed the First Army Corps Commander Weewalit Jornsamrit was appointed the Second Army Corps Commander.

Lèse majesté controversy

Censorship worsened under the Abhisit government compared to the government of Thaksin Shinawatra. Abhisit established a special task-force to combat a supposed explosion of critical comment regarding the role of the Thai monarchy in politics. It launched a website encouraging people to inform on alleged offenders. Nearly 4,800 web pages were blocked for allegedly being insulting to the monarchy. The moves were seen by human rights activists as part of a concerted campaign to suppress political debate in the kingdom.

In March 2009, police raided the offices of Prachatai, an online newspaper critical of the government, on grounds that the newspaper had insulted the monarchy. Two days later, Abhisit met with representatives of Thai internet users and vowed to respect freedom of expression while developing new internet norms and standards.

Foreign relations

Abhisit appointed Peoples Alliance for Democracy leader Kasit Piromya as Foreign Minister. Prior to his appointment, Kasit had led anti-Cambodia protests and called Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen a "gangster" (he later claimed the word he used actually meant "a person who is lionhearted, a courageous and magnanimous gentleman"). In April 2009, "large-scale fighting" erupted between Thai and Cambodian troops amid the 900-year-old ruins of the Preah Vihearmarker Hindu temple near the Cambodian border. The Cambodian government claimed its army had killed at least four Thais and captured 10 more, although the Thai government denied that any Thai soldiers were killed or injured. Two Cambodian soldiers were killed and three Thai soldiers were killed. Both armies blamed the other for firing first and denied entering the other's territory.

Abhisit and the prime minister of Vietnam, met Friday, July 10, 2009 to discuss how to address the global economic crisis. Abhisit arrived in Hanoimarker for an one-day visit with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyễn Tấn Dũng. The two reviewed an honor guard before heading for an hour-and-half talks behind closed doors. "Your visit will contribute to expanding and deepening the friendship and multifaceted cooperation between Vietnam and Thailand," Dung told his guest during the five-minute photo opportunity.

In a regular press conference on July 9, Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung told reporters that the two prime ministers were expected to discuss how each is dealing with the financial crisis, discuss the rice trade, tourism, transport links and protection of the Mekong River. Thailand is the world's leading exporter of the grain while Vietnam is ranked second. Thailand and Vietnam are important trading partners, and their bilateral trade reached $6.5 billion in 2008. Thailand also ranked ninth among foreign investors in Vietnam, having poured nearly $6 billion into the country. Vietnam, which has recorded average economic growth of 7 percent over the past decade, saw its economy expand only 3.9 percent in the first half of 2009.

Economic recession

The global economic crisis had a major impact on Thailand. Unemployment in January 2009 soared by 880,000 compared to December 2008. In early 2009, the economy was expected to contract 3% throughout the year.

Abhisit responded to the crisis with borrowing and increasing the budget deficit, handouts, and general budget cuts. In order to finance his stimulus program, Abhisit successfully rescinded a law that banned it from borrowing more than 20% percent of its spending. In January 2009, a 117 billion baht stimulus package was unveiled. In May, a 1.4 trillian baht package was unveiled, requiring borrowing of 800 billion baht (22 billion USD). Most of the money would be spent on infrastructure, mostly transportation.

Abhisit approved the one-time issuance of 2,000 Baht (approximately 75 USD) checks to people making less than 15,000 Baht (approximately $500) a month.

Prosecution of Peoples Alliance for Democracy

Abhisit promised to enforce the rule of law and prosecute the 21 Peoples Alliance for Democracy leaders who were responsible for seizing Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi Airports. As of April, arrest warrants had not been issued for the airport seizures.

Songkran unrest

In March 2009, Thaksin Shinawatra claimed via video broadcast that Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda masterminded the 2006 military coup, and that Prem and fellow Privy Councilor members Surayud Chulanont and Chanchai Likhitjittha conspired with the military to ensure that Abhisit became Premier. Although Abhisit denied the accusations, thousands protested in Bangkok early April demanding that Abhisit resign from the Premiership and that Prem, Surayud, and Chanchai resign from the Privy Council. Thaksin openly called for a "peoples revolution" to overcome the alleged aristocratic influences of the Abhisit government. The protests, led by the red-shirted National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) expanded to Pattaya, the site of the Fourth East Asia Summit. Violent clashes occurred between the UDD and blue-shirted government supporters. The protests caused the summit to be cancelled, leading Abhisit to declare a state of emergency in the areas of Pattaya and Chonburi on April 11. Legislation authorizing emergency decrees was originally pushed through Parliament in 2005 by the Thaksin government, provoking charges of authoritarianism at the time by Abhisit. Under the state of emergency, gatherings of more than five people were prohibited and the press was not permitted to present news which could incite worry.

On 12 April, protesters surrounded Abhisit's limousine at the Interior Ministry in Bangkok and hurled objects at his windows. Abhisit made it out safely while one of his deputies was seriously wounded by the protesters. Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayakorn said that Abhisit's inner circle viewed the attack as a well-coordinated assassination attempt, claiming that security footage of the incident showed men with masks and guns were positioned on the perimeter of the attack, apparently waiting for protesters to break through the car's bulletproof windows.

As the week-long Songkran (Thai New Year) holiday began, protests escalated in Bangkok. Fighting erupted between anti-government protesters, government supporters, and the general population. Abhisit declared a state of emergency for Bangkok and surrounding areas due to heightened escalation of tension and denounced the anti-government protesters as "national enemies". Abhisit also issued a decree that empowered the government to censor television broadcasts. A television journalist reported that he was ordered not to show images damaging to the military or government. Before the bloodshed, Thaksin appealed on a D-Station television broadcast for King Bhumibol to intervene and end the showdown.

In the pre-dawn of Monday April 13, Thai soldiers, supported by the public's outcry over the red-shirts' aggression against Bangkok residents, used tear gas and fired live and training rounds to clear protesters from the Din Daengmarker intersection near the Victory Monumentmarker in central Bangkok, injuring at least 70 people, but with no death.
 The Army later claimed that live rounds were only fired into the air while training rounds were fired at the crowd. Human Rights Watch confirmed that there are some cases where the Army fired live ammunition directly at protesters. The UDD claimed that dozens of protesters died from gunshot wounds sustained during the military's attack, but with no supporting evidence. However, the Army later claimed that the wound was not caused by an M-16, the standard Army rifle. Also on Monday the government ordered the blocking of satellite news station D Station, an affiliate of the UDD which, at the time, was broadcasting the clashes. Several community radio stations were shut down and searched upon suspicion of being supporters of the UDD. Violent clashes at numerous locations in Bangkok continued while arrest warrants were issued for Thaksin and 13 protest leaders. Obviously politically defeated, some protest leaders voluntarily gave themselves in to police on 14 April 2009. Government House protesters were identified and had their photographs taken prior to being released. Afterwards, Abhisit issued warrants for dozens of other protest leaders and revoked Thaksin's ordinary passport.


According to government figures, over 120 people were injured in the unrest, most of them UDD demonstrators although some military personnel, pro-government supporters, and general public were also injured. At least one UDD protester died from gunshot wounds sustained during the military's attack in Din Daeng, although the Army claimed the wound was not caused by their standard firearm. The UDD later claimed that at least 6 demonstrators were killed in the unrest and their bodies hauled away by the military but could not reinforce the claim. The dead bodies of 2 UDD protesters were found floating in the Chao Phraya river, their hands tied behind their backs and their bodies badly beaten, although police had yet to conclude whether their murders were politically motivated. Abhisit aide Satit Wongnontaey claimed that two government supporters were shot dead by red shirted protesters in clashes in Din Daeng. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration estimated that it had incurred 10 million Baht (approximately 300,000 USD) in property damages, including 31 damaged and burned buses. Standard & Poor's lowered Thailand's local currency rating to "A-" from "A", although Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij claimed this would increase the government's borrowing cost minimally.

On 21 April, Abhisit declared a "media war" designed to attack the UDD's claims. He also announced the public distribution of millions of VCDs documenting the government's views on the unrest. At the time, the government's emergency and censorship decrees were still in place.

The state of emergency, but not the censorship decree, was lifted on 24 April.

Abhisit's treatment of the UDD prompted criticisms that he applied one standard to his opposition and another to the PAD. The Asian Human Rights Commission noted "The obvious differences in how the yellow shirts and red shirts have been treated will only encourage government opponents to resort to increasingly extralegal means to get their way." At the time, warrants had not yet been issued for the PAD's peaceful airport seizures that occurred months before, while warrants had been issued for the UDD hours after the violence erupted. In an interview with the Financial Times, Abhisit said “I can understand [the UDD] feeling the cases against PAD have been slow. The problem is that PAD action didn’t take place during my administration and the process that began to investigate.” When the interviewer noted that the airport sieges ended just two weeks before Abhisit came to power, he claimed that "I have summoned the police chief and expressed my concern that the case is ruling slowly and they have made some progress."

Sondhi Limthongkul assassination attempt

Gunmen attempted to assassinate PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul on 17 April 2009. Sondhi was wounded in the attack.

Sondhi's son, Jittanart Limthongkul, blamed factions within the military and the Abhisit government of being behind the assassination attempt:
"A new form of war is emerging -- it's being launched by the collusion of certain police and military officers. They are plotting a new coup. It is said that a minister, who is said to be involved in the attempted assassination of a privy councillor, is actively behind this new exercise."Privy Councillor Charnchai Likitjitta had also been the target of an unsuccessful assassination plot. The Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for a close aide to Deputy Prime Minister and senior Democrat Party figure Sanan Kachornprasart, on the grounds that the aide masterminded the alleged assassination attempt on Charnchai.

Thaksin also implied that forces within the government were behind the attack:
It's [the Abhisit] government that has been given the license to kill [due to the state of emergency]. And I have the impression that the phase of "cut-off killings" has begun -- in other words, they are eliminating anyone who knows too much about the conspiracy of those in power against me.

However, Foreign Minister and former PAD leader Kasit Piromya claimed that Thaksin was behind the assassination attempt:
"Thaksin failed on the populist movement and now I think he has resorted to some sort of assassination attempt."Kasit revealed that he had planned to have lunch with the Sondhi on the day of the attack. Kasit also claimed that himself, Abhisit, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban were planned targets for assassination, and that he was guarded by several fully armed marines.

Army chief Anupong Paojinda said that the M16 rifle shells found at the scene were issued to the Royal Thai Army's 9th Infantry Division, which is under the First Army Region headquartered in Bangkok. Gen Anupong added that the rounds were from stores used for shooting practice, but that it would be very difficult to narrow down from which unit the ammunition actually came.

South Thailand insurrection

In July 2009, Abhisit claimed that violence in Southern Thailand decreased since his government took over in December. His claim was contradicted by Deep South Watch, an academic think-tank at the Prince of Songkhla Universitymarker in Pattanimarker province, which showed that violence has actually increased since the beginning of the year.

Popularity

Surveys

According to a survey by Assumption University's Abac Poll around the end of May 2009, Abhisit received a 70% Approval rating, the highest within the Cabinet. The overall approval rating for the government were 59% "rather much or much" satisfied and 9.4% at "very much" satisfied. Overall the government was rated 6.5 out of 10 by a majority of respondents.

By-elections

In the first round of by-elections after the House of Representatives elected Abhisit Vejjajiva as the Prime Minister, Abhisit's coalition extended its majority by 20 seats out of 29 contested seats. June by-elections in Sakon Nakhonmarker were expected to be a shoo-in for the government-member Bhum Jai Thai Party due to its control over the powerful Ministry of Interior. However, Bhum Jai Thai was roundly defeated by the Thaksin-affiliated Puea Thai Party. The by-election result was called a "nightmare" for Abhisit's coalition government

See also



References

External links




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