A planned government policy address by Thailand's newly-elected Prime
Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and a following parliament debate had to be postponed
for another day after anti-government demonstrators besieged the Parliament in
central Bangkok yesterday morning.
Parliament President Chai Chidchob first phoned reporters at a press room
after 10:00 am (0300 GMT) to announce that the policy debate session, originally
scheduled to start at 9:30 am (0230 GMT) and to last two days, will be postponed
to 2:00 pm (0700 GMT).
Chai then delayed the session to 5:00 pm (1000 GMT) after the failure of
negotiations with protesters, who blocked accesses to the parliament compound
from early Monday morning.
By evening, he sent SMSs to MPs and senators, informing them that the debate
has been postponed to 9:30 am (0230 GMT) today.
The postponement was decided after thousands of red-shirt demonstrators, who
supported former coup-ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, besieged the Parliament
from early hours of the day in attempts to blockade the new government policy
address due to be delivered yesterday morning.
The protesters in red, led by Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship
(DAAD), had gathered from Sunday afternoon at Sanam Luang (Royal Field) square
in central Bangkok and moved to rally around the Parliament compound after
On early yesterday morning, they surrounded the gates to the Parliament and
allowed people to get into the compound one by one.
Similar tactics of besieging the Parliament had been used by supporters of
the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), or referred as the "yellow-shirt"
people, to block the previous premier Somchai Wongsawat from delivering the
government policy speech on October 7, in an attempt to pressure the Somchai
government to step down.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Theugsubhan said negotiation was underway
between the government and the DAAD protest leaders, including Jatuporn Promphun
and Veera Musikapong.
Suthep Thaugsuban reiterated that the government will not use force against
the red-shirt protesters.
Suthep was speaking after chairing an urgent meeting with Police chief Pol
Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan and City police chief Pol Lt Gen Suchart Muenkaew.
The protest leaders said the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and MPs could
walk into the compound.
The DAAD called on the Abhisit government to dissolve the Parliament for a
snap general election.
Some 3,000 police were deployed to keep security around the compound. Police
earlier released leaflets to the protesters, warning against violent actions by
By laws, a government has to deliver policy statement within 15days. For
Abhisit government, which took office on December 22, it has to do within
January 5, 2009.
The DAAD leaders have threatened to besiege the Parliament through Monday and
Tuesday, the scheduled time for the government policy debate.
Abhisit earlier said the government would not resort to force to crack down
on the red-shirt protesters.
Somchai government was blamed for ordering police to use tear-gas to disperse
PAD protesters on October 7, causing violent clashes that killed two persons and
injured more than 400 others.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit was elected new PM after Somchai stepped down
with a court verdict on December 2 that disbanded the former ruling People Power
Party on electoral fraud charges.