Go to contents

Clash Between Rival Protesters Expected in Bangkok

Posted December. 02, 2008 03:38,   


Hundreds of passengers are shouting at the luggage scanner, but the waiting line does not budge. The only four ticket counters are in a mess, and the entrance of the airport has long been a huge parking lot.

The Associated Press described the scene yesterday at U-Tapao air base in Pattaya, the only way in and out of Thailand.

The situation is worsening as anti-government protesters occupied Bangkok airports for the seventh day. Moreover, pro-government protesters began their own rally, foreshadowing a violent confrontation with anti-government protesters.

▽ No. of stranded passengers to hit 300,000

The Thai government is airlifting passengers at U-Tapao, located 140 kilometers south from Bangkok, but this is expected to make little difference because the base can only handle 40 flights a day, a far cry from the 700 going through Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Foreign media said an estimated 240,000 passengers were stranded since airports in Bangkok were blocked, and even if the protesters leave, more than 300,000 people will be affected since at least a week will be needed to check airport facilities and security equipment.

Bangkok is spending 1.1 million dollars a day on accommodations and meals for stranded passengers, but says the number of tourists next year will be half of this year`s, six million to seven million.

▽ Confrontation between rival protesters likely

AFP said the anti-government People`s Alliance for Democracy were leaving the office of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, which they occupied for three months, and headed for Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports. A PAD source said they decided to move because of the continued attacks on the office, including Sunday’s explosions that injured some 50 people.

Protestors allowed 37 of 88 flights in Suvarnabhumi to leave, but without passengers.

Expected to worsen the situation are some 15,000 members of the pro-government United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship, or UDD, waged protests for the second day in downtown Bangkok. They plan to besiege the Constitutional Court, which will rule today on if the ruling coalition violated election law, foreshadowing a violent confrontation with the PAD.