Beyond Violence 

Political Crisis in Thailand Continues

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Political conflict continues to prevail in Thailand, despite calls from the country's current Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, for a peaceful resolution to clashes between two groups at odds over leadership in the country.

The stalemate continues; spurring outbursts of violence responsible for injuries to hundreds of protesters, demonstrators and innocent bystanders; often not actively involved in the power struggle. More than 20 people have lost their lives since November 2013. The conflict, however, has roots dating back to 2005 when the country's former premiere, Thaksin Shinawatra - brother to Yingluck, was overthrown by a military coup.

While the country's political landscape has been in turmoil since Thaksin was accused of corruption and ousted from power, the conflict between protestors and supporters of the Yingluck Shinawatra regime has grown deadlier. In 2010, more than 90 pro-Thaksin demonstrators were killed in one military action.

Strong Opposition
Demonstrators against the current administration, and by association Thaksin, are primarily southerners and urban activists. They believe Yingluck is heavily influenced by her brother, prompting mistrust in her Pheu Thai party - certain that she is simply a conduit for her brother to remain active in Thai politics.

Recent elections, in February 2014, went to Yingluck, but the Premiere is unable to form a government to date. According to the Thai constitution, 475 of the Parliament's 500 members must return in her favor, which has been impossible since the February 2nd election victory. In addition to other issues, Yinglick has herself been tied to corruption schemes; making her future uncertain.

The opposition is mobilized over outrage to continued corruption, but the country also faces economic difficulties. At the same time, Sethup Thaugsuban, the leader of the rebellion, shows no signs of backing down from his commitment to topple Shinawatra.

Recent Developments
The anti-government demonstrations took a particularly tragic turn in February when two young children were killed in a grenade attack, which took place outside of a shopping mall. In another incident on Saturday, February 22nd, a five year-old child died at a rally in the province of Trat. The casualties represent the first children to be killed in the resurgence of violence last has lasted months, calling even greater public attention to the violent stand-off.

As she has in the past, Ms Shinawatra is calling for peaceful negotiations to end the senseless violence. She wants formal talks between the Democrat Party, which is closely align with the opposition, and her own Pheu Thai leadership. She is stepping up the tone of urgency due to the deaths of innocent children. The country's military commanders have also called for peaceful resolution, downplaying their likelihood of intervening.

Economic Future
While the political unrest in Thailand has shown spikes in violence, followed by periods of less visible impacts, the movement has steadily taken its toll on the people and politics of the country. As a result, economic conditions are showing signs of deterioration as well. Recent reports have revised earnings forecasts downwards, creating tenuous prospects for the future of the nation's economy.

While demonstrations show no signs of slowing, and citizens continue to die, the economic plight of the country may weigh heavily on future political outcomes. Continued economic growth slowdowns will put more pressure on leadership, and mobilize even greater participation in protest demonstrations. In order to overcome this political crisis, the challenge for Thailand is to stop the violence and maintain economic stability.

This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes for background checks.

Written by Rebecca Gray and published on 14-March-2014

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