Thai PM defends crackdown ahead of censure debate
Thailand's premier on Monday defended a deadly army crackdown on anti-government protesters as he prepared for a grilling in parliament on his handling of the crisis.world Updated: May 31, 2010 10:27 IST
Thailand's premier on Monday defended a deadly army crackdown on anti-government protesters as he prepared for a grilling in parliament on his handling of the crisis.
"The government and army had no intention to attack people," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said ahead of the two-day no confidence debate.
"What had happened was there was a militia group which attacked the military and that led to clashes. We will explain this fact and we show our sincerity by allowing an independent committee to investigate" the events, he added.
The Red Shirts' street rally, broken up on May 19 in an army assault on their vast encampment in the retail heart of Bangkok, sparked outbreaks of violence that left 88 people dead, mostly civilians, and nearly 1,900 injured.
The Red Shirts were campaigning for elections they hoped would oust the government, which they view as undemocratic because it came to power with the backing of the army after a court ruling threw out the previous administration.
The main opposition Puea Thai party is expected to demand answers from Abhisit's administration on why it sent armed soldiers firing live rounds -- instead of riot police -- to restore order in the protest-hit capital.
Both sides want to produce photographs, videos and documents related to the protests and bloodshed during the censure debate.
But the opposition boycotted a panel set up to review footage of the violence, casting doubt on whether they would be allowed to show their own evidence in parliament.
"If we can't show clips then after the debate we will show them on stages in different provinces that are not under a state of emergency," Puea Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said over the weekend.
The government lifted a night-time curfew on Saturday, saying the situation was returning to normal, but it left in place emergency rule across more than one third of the country, including Bangkok.
Abhisit banned public gatherings of more than five people and gave broad powers to police and military under the state of emergency invoked on April 7 after Red Shirts occupied a commercial district and stormed parliament.