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New Straits Times - - World -

was not a peace­ful rally. The au­thor­i­ties had to use force to clear the way,” the court said.

Som­chai and Chavalit both hail from the po­lit­i­cal fac­tion loyal to Thaksin, the self-ex­iled bil­lion­aire ty­coon who sits at the heart of Thai­land’s fes­ter­ing po­lit­i­cal di­vide.

Som­chai, Thaksin’s brother-in­law, was prime min­is­ter at the time of the crackdown while Chavalit had pre­vi­ously served as pre­mier in the 1990s.

Thaksin was ousted by the army in 2006, set­ting off a decade of in­sta­bil­ity marked by fre­quent bouts of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence, short-lived gov­ern­ments and an­other army putsch in 2014.

Par­ties run by or al­lied to Thaksin’s clan have won every elec­tion since 2001, largely through the sup­port of ru­ral and poor vot­ers from the pop­u­lous north who adore them.

But they are loathed by much of Bangkok’s roy­al­ist elite and their mil­i­tary al­lies who have used street protests, the courts and coups to crush their op­po­nents.

Dur­ing the 2008 protests it was the anti-Shi­nawa­tra fac­tion — dubbed the “Yel­low Shirts” — who were lay­ing siege to Par­lia­ment. AFP

Chavalit Yongchaiyudh

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