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Protesters force cancellation of Asian summit

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 11, 2009

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) — Political protesters in Thailand Saturday have forced the cancellation of the Association of South East Asian Nations summit.

A supporter of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra wearing his mask at a protest in Bangkok.

Thousands of anti-government protesters block a busy intersection during rush hour in Bangkok.

Participating Asian leaders were on their way out of the country, according to Thailand’s prime minister, who declared a state of emergency in the southern coastal city of Pattaya, where the summit was being held.

The emergency order gives police the authority to arrest people without seeking arrest warrants.

Thousands of “red shirt” protesters — named for their clothing — have rallied for days to demand that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva step down. They say Abhisit was not democratically elected, and want him to schedule elections.

Their protests are not directly related to the Asian summit, but the demonstrations created so much chaos that summit members could not reach at least two of their meetings.

The disruptions included traffic around hotel meeting sites and conflicts among protesters. “Blue shirt” protesters and red shirts clashed, both sides armed with long sticks.

In a strategy change among red shirts, demonstrators have been urged to go to the southern coastal city of Pattaya to support fellow red shirts in their protests, according to the Thai Public Broadcasting Service, which attributed the comment to Nattavut Saikuea, a protest leader.

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Earlier, Nattavut had said that red shirt demonstrations might be suspended to allow Thais to celebrate the New Year from Monday through Wednesday next week.

The demonstrators are loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. He fled Bangkok last year while facing trial on corruption charges

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