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06 March 2006
Thailand descends into political paralysis

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra dissolved the lower house of parliament on 24 February and called fresh elections. The decision follows several months of increasing political pressure and has paralysed the country's political system.

At the same time, urban demonstrations continue. The protests began in late 2005 over concern of a creeping autocracy in Thaksin's administration, but gathered pace after a USD1.9 billion, income tax-free sale of the Thaksin family company Shin Corp to a Singaporean government investment firm in January 2006. Thaksin denied any wrongdoing in the sale.

The political paralysis and public unrest has led to concern that the military would launch another coup if the crisis is not resolved. In the latter half of the 20th century Thailand's political system was characterised by a cycle of weak civilian governments and military coups. However, Chief of Staff General Sonthi Boonyaratklin, denied the possibility of a coup on 28 February, and the probability is currently low as not all possibilities to resolve the crisis have yet been exhausted.

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