Antigovernment protests have created a serious political crisis in Thailand, threatening the stability of one of Asia's proudest nations. As a close friend and ally, the United States urges both supporters and opponents of the government to refrain from violence, respect the rule of law and address their differences within Thailand’s democratic institutions.
Demonstrators from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a group opposed to Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s government that calls for the replacement of Thailand’s electoral democracy with a largely appointed legislature, occupied Bangkok’s Government House compound late last month and refused to leave until the Prime Minister resigned. He declared a state of emergency after a violent clash between government supporters and some protestors left one person dead and dozens injured, but the demonstrators have defied it by refusing to end their occupation.
The political situation has been tense for months and tensions seem likely to persist for some time, worrying foreign investors and scaring away tourists who help buoy the nation's economy. And if the stakes weren't already high enough, the crisis may be hindering the nation's leaders from crafting a political solution to an insurgency in Thailand's southern provinces.
Thailand's cabinet announced preliminary plans to hold a referendum to ask the public to decide whether the prime minister and his government should step down, but some Thais argue that such a referendum would be illegal. Moving forward, the U.S. urges all parties to address their differences through political and peaceful means.