Fight to impeach Thai PM begins

The
impeachment measure and a move to censure top Cabinet officials were expected
to be easily defeated. But it reflects deep rifts that divide the country after
two months of protests that left at least 88 dead and the Thai capital in
flames.

Opposition
whip Wittaya Buranasiri said the motion to impeach Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was introduced by the opposition Pheu Thai Party – allies of ousted
former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, whom the anti-government Red
Shirt protesters generally support.

It
also sought to censure several of his top Cabinet members.

Members
of the Pheu Thai allege Abhisit and his deputy prime minister abused their
power in using force in their crackdown on the protests.

The
motions underscore a growing political and social rift that has opened up since
the Red Shirt movement swept into Bangkok in March, demanding Abhisit resign
and call early elections. The Red Shirts want Abhisit out because they claim he
came to power illegitimately with the help of back-room deals and military
pressure.

The
latest round of unrest came to a head when Red Shirt protesters moved into
Bangkok’s central business district, building bamboo-and-tire barricades and
controlling checkpoints that crippled one of the city’s most important shopping
and tourism areas.

While
the protests themselves were generally peaceful, several shootings and grenade
attacks were blamed on a militant Red Shirt wing. Two military crackdowns led
to deadly street clashes between soldiers and protesters.

At
least 88 people – mostly Red Shirts who were shot – died in protest-related
violence.

All
but one of the top Red Shirt leadership were in custody Monday after the
surrender of two more key figures. Another leader was expected to surrender on
Tuesday.

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