Skip to main content

Thai PM defiant in face of strike

  • Story Highlights
  • Protesters calling for general strike Wednesday; 40 unions agree to join in
  • In exclusive CNN interview embattled Thai PM denies being predecessor's puppet
  • Demonstrations are demanding he step down
  • State of emergency declared for capital city of Bangkok after violent protests
  • Next Article in World »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Thai demonstrators have called for a general strike Wednesday, as state media reported the ruling by Thailand's election commission that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's People's Power Party should be dissolved for allegedly trying to buy votes.

Thailand's embattled prime minister gave no indication Tuesday that he intends to forcibly stop anti-government street protests that have paralyzed the government and left one person dead.

Samak said in an exclusive interview with CNN: "Now we are waiting. I think by now that I have done everything that a government can do to be soft and gentle."

But when asked if now is the time for the government to harden its stance, Samak said, "No."

The protesters -- who have occupied Samak's office for a week -- are demanding the Thai prime minister step down, accusing him of being a proxy for his ousted predecessor, Thaksin Shinawatra. Video Watch protesters defy the state of emergency »

Samak strongly denied that Thaksin was "still pulling the strings."

"You don't you use this word to me," he told CNN's Dan Rivers. "This is an insult to me." Video Watch Samak talk to CNN »

Samak spoke to CNN hours after he declared a state of emergency in the capital city of Bangkok in response to overnight clashes between his supporters and anti-government demonstrators that wounded 40 and left one person dead.

Don't Miss

It was the worst outbreak of violence since the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) launched its efforts to oust Samak.

The state of emergency order -- which overrides the country's constitution and allows the army to be in charge of enforcing laws -- forbids public gatherings of more than five people and bans the media from publishing or broadcasting images that would panic the public.

But protest leader Sondhi Limthongku said the government order will not deter his supporters from continuing their movement to oust Samak.

"We are sending a strong message to all politicians: Do not ever think that if you win the majority, you can do anything simply because you claim you win the majority," said Sondhi, who is head of PAD. "This is wrong."

The protesters, who last week shut down three airports across the country, have said they plan to do the same to Bangkok International Airport. A shut-down there would cause major disruptions because many international travelers use it for connecting flights.

"We're closing that airport only temporarily, just for a symbolic gesture," Sondhi said.

Demonstrators have also called for a general strike Wednesday, and more than 40 unions have agreed to participate -- potentially paralyzing the country.

Protesters also continued to occupy Government House, the government's headquarters.

PAD contends Samak is trying to amend the constitution so Thaksin -- who was ousted in a coup in 2006 -- does not have to face charges. Thaksin returned to England this month, just as he was to appear in court in a corruption case.

Thailand's election commission ruled Tuesday that Samak's People's Power Party should be dissolved for allegedly trying to buy votes in the December elections, state media reported.

Thai political analyst Thitinan Pongsuthirak said the commission's unanimous decision, which is not expected to have any immediate effect, has wider implications for Thailand.

"This is a big test not just for Samak but it's a litmus test for Thai democracy and Thai society," Thitinan said.

The ruling stems from charges against the party's deputy leader, Yongyuth Tiyapairat, who the Supreme Court found guilty of buying votes during the campaign phase of last year's elections.


According to the country's constitution, senior members of a party that is ordered dissolved cannot participate in political activities for five years. Other members have to find a new party within two months, the Thai News Agency said.

The news agency added that PPP members have already registered a new political party, which is expected to be housed in a building owned by Thaksin.

CNN's Dan Rivers and Kochakorn Olarn contributed to this report.

All About ThailandThaksin ShinawatraSamak Sundaravej

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print