Recent developments in the month-long street protest in Thailand have elicited calls from the United States, Australia, Philippines and other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for restraint in dealing with the intense political situation in the country.
The calls came as bloody clashes between the police and government troops on one hand and the street protesters on the other, left at least 20 people dead this weekend, a situation that have deepened years of political crises in Thailand's floundering democracy Tension has calmed down a bit Sunday as the Red Shirt protesters took care of the burial of the victims of the violent clash between them and government authorities.
But the Red Shirt leaders warned the government of a prolonged crises if their demands are not met. Among others, the Red Shirt protesters are demanding that Prime Mister Abhisit Vejajjiva step down and leave the country immediately.
Earlier they were only demanding that the Prime Minister step down and call for a new election. Tension remained high on Monday as the Red Shirt protesters are expected to resume their heightened protests after the funeral arrangement for the casualties Protest leaders have promised to maintain their campaign until the government dissolves parliament and calls fresh elections despite the deaths of seventeen civilians and four soldiers in Saturday's clashes.
The Red Shirt protesters, supporters of fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, maintain they want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down and leave the country. The United States hopes Thailand's upcoming new year serves as an opportunity for "reconciliation," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday following the kingdom's worst political violence in 20 years.
Earlier in Washington. the White House called for "restraint by both protesters and security forces." South Korea and China both urged their nationals on Sunday to avoid visiting Bangkok.
Australia warned its citizens of a “strong possibility of further violence” in Thailand, and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told tourists to stay away from the protests.
The US state department has not updated a travel alert issued last week when a state of emergency was imposed that advised citizens to be careful when visiting the Thai capital.
(original article appeared @ Digital Journal )