|Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said there would be an independent investigation into the army’s use of force to clear protesters from Bangkok’s streets. (AFP/Getty Images)|
Thai leader fights censure attempt
BANGKOK — Thailand’s prime minister defended himself against a censure motion in Parliament yesterday and said there would be an independent investigation into whether the army used undue force to clear antigovernment protesters from Bangkok’s streets.
The opposition Puea Thai Party says the army’s use of live ammunition and armored personnel carriers to break up the two-month-long protest was excessive and resulted in civilian casualties. The thousands of Red Shirts had been calling for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve Parliament immediately and call new elections.
Because the government holds a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, Abhisit and five of his Cabinet ministers are almost certain to win a no-confidence vote scheduled for today after two days of debate.
Over the duration of the protest, 89 people, mostly civilians, died from street clashes, grenade attacks and sniper fire, and some 1,800 people were wounded. As the military moved in to clear the protest on May 19, rioters set fires at the country’s biggest shopping mall, the stock exchange, and more than two dozen other places.
No side could claim victory when faced with such losses, Abhisit said yesterday.
“In the end, for reconciliation’s sake, Parliament has to investigate the matter further,’’ he said. His government has accused a small minority of the protesters as being responsible for the violence.
“Please be assured that I will definitely not influence nor interfere with the investigation,’’ Abhisit was quoted as saying by the state Thai News Agency.