After months of drama, standoff, protests and violence, a court dissolved Thailand‘s top three ruling parties for electoral fraud Tuesday and temporarily banned the prime minister from politics….
The Constitutional Court ruling set the stage for thousands of protesters to end their weeklong siege of the country’s two main airports, but also raised fears of retaliatory violence by a pro-government group that could sink the country deeper into crisis and cripple its economy.
By AMBIKA AHUJA, Associated Press Writer
Members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, occupying Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport, cheered and hugged after they heard news of the verdict.
“My heart is happy. My friends are very happy,” said Pailin Jampapong, a 41-year-old Bangkok housekeeper choking back tears as she jumped up and down.
Government spokesman Nattawut Sai-kau said Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his six-party ruling coalition would step down.
“We will abide by the law. The coalition parties will meet together to plan for its next move soon,” he told The Associated Press.
He also said the government was postponing a regional summit in Thailand of Southeast Asian countries, from December to March.
Somchai had become increasingly isolated in recent weeks. Neither the army, a key player in Thai politics, nor the country’s much revered king had offered him firm backing. Since Wednesday, he and his Cabinet had been working out of the northern city of Chiang Mai, a government stronghold.
A Thai court has ruled that PM Somchai Wongsawat must step down over election fraud, a ruling he has accepted.
His governing People Power Party and two of its coalition partners have been ordered to disband and the parties’ leaders have been barred from politics.
But it is unclear if the ruling ends a months-long political crisis, since other coalition MPs have vowed to form another government under a new name.
Earlier, an anti-government protester was killed at a Bangkok airport.
Local television reported that a grenade had been fired at Don Mueang airport, the capital’s domestic hub, which has been occupied by the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) since last week.
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