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Thais look to the stars to solve political mess

If the stars are anything to go by, things are going to get tougher for the Thai Prime Minister.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2006 14:34 IST

If the stars are anything to go by, things are going to get tougher for Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

"Saturn is stuck in Cancer which is not so good for him," fortune-teller Soothee Sathirabutra proclaimed after tracing Thaksin's July 26, 1949 birthday through a series of well-thumbed astrological tomes, charts and tables.

"He also has a problem with the number four, which means information, speech or anything else that comes out of his mouth," the bespectacled sage told Reuters from behind his leather-top desk in a swish Bangkok shopping mall.

"I think they will have to cancel the election and the King and his advisers should should appoint a successor."

Beneath the modern facade of Bangkok's towering office blocks and glitzy shops, Thais remain a deeply superstitious bunch for whom magic and mystery play a major part in power and politics.

And in a political crisis which sometimes defies rational interpretation - some of Thaksin's opponents, for instance, suggest a military coup would help restore democracy they say he has undermined - many are turning to the mystic arts for guidance.

When 100,000 protesters hit the streets of Bangkok this week calling for his head, Thaksin, a billionaire telecoms tycoon, went elephant riding, sitting astride the beast's neck in the place of the mahout in a bid to boost his potency.

"It's a traditional belief that a powerful man who rides on an elephant and can control it will be shielded from all dangers," an unnamed elephant expert told the Bangkok Post.

It is not the first time the flamboyant Thaksin, who appeared to lead a charmed existence in his first four-year term in office, has enlisted the help of the supernatural.

Last year, he refused to talk to reporters for weeks, citing the unfavourable alignment of the planet Mercury.

His opponents, who accuse him of corruption, cronysim and abuse of power, are also trying to enlist outside help in their quest to kick him out of office.

On Thursday, a Bangkok radio station reported astrologer Samrit Klauklaeng, a former Thaksin family star-gazer, telling thousands of protesters outside Government House that the PM's days in office were numbered.

"He must be mad at me for coming out like this, but I have no ill-feeling toward him. His stars are now on a steep declining course," Samrit told the crowd. "I have advised him to quit, but he is very stubborn and refuses to listen."

In an equally powerful but slightly more down-to-earth gesture, the Nation newspaper reported that scores of female protesters had cursed Thaksin by passing photographs of him through their legs.

First Published: Mar 18, 2006 14:34 IST