Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nov 29: Final showdow: Crackdown or coup?

It's the final face-off today: Crackdown against the protestors at the airport or a coup -- or one after another?

The three key players are: Former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, now believed to be in Beijing, is still believed to be directing Premier Somchai Wongsawat's every move from abroad. He just appeared on a video from Beijing declaring: A new coup would mean bloodshed.

Premier Somchai has declared a state of emergency at both Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports. He has named the interior minister to be in charge of dispersing the protestors -- starting with negotiations with the People's Alliance for Democracy.

PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul announced last night there won't be any negotiations until Somchai quits.

Interior Miniter Kovit Wattana countered this morning with a new threat: If PAD refuses to negotiate, we will proceed with the mission (clearing protestors out by force).

Army Chief Gen Anupong Paochinda is resisting Premier Somchai's order to crack down on the protestors. He also says he won't stage a coup.

Somchai yesterday sacked Police Chief Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan, allegedly because the latter refused to comply with the "clear-out-the-mob" order.

Is Gen Anupong the next to fall? Somchai has said he won't sack any military officer, at least for the time being.

PAD (the yellow shirts) and pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (the red shirts) who have threatened to come out in full force against a coup, are probably both pressuring the army to go for the "last resort" especially if blood is shed, either through the crackdown or clashes between the anti-Thaksin and pro-Thaksin groups.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel.

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