As of April 14 morning, the situation in much of Bangkok is calm. There is virtually no traffic on the road anyway due to the Thai New Year holiday. Most of the city still looks like a ghost town. Public transport by the subway and the overhead skytrain is by far the best way of getting around. Many tourists have left the city, and there has been a visible decline in the number of new incoming visitors. But the red-shirts are a spent force and by April 15 morning, it’s all expected to be business as usual…
As of April 14 morning, the situation in much of Bangkok is calm. There is virtually no traffic on the road anyway due to the Thai New Year holiday. Most of the city still looks like a ghost town. Public transport by the subway and the overhead skytrain is by far the best way of getting around. Many tourists have left the city, and there has been a visible decline in the number of new incoming visitors. But the red-shirts are a spent force and by April 15 morning, it’s all expected to be business as usual.
Thousands of protesters who had amassed for days outside the government headquarters in Bangkok dispersed Tuesday after a top leader called on them to suspend their rallies until after the Thai New Year celebrations. Soon after the leader, Veera Muksikapong, made his announcement, protesters left by foot or on motorcycles from the area around the Government House.
Two people died Monday during a fight between anti-government protesters and Bangkok residents, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said in a televised address. Earlier, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose supporters have engaged in escalating clashes with Thai police, reiterated Monday that he is willing to return to his country but would not say when.
"Well, you know I am ready to go when the time is right," Thaksin told CNN. "But now, I like to see peaceful protests by the demonstrators. Actually, you know, they are all innocent people. They come with bare hands; they are asking for true democracy and justice. But they got back undemocratic ways with a lot of brutal suppression."
Thaksin would not say when he might return. Earlier, he had asked his supporters to "come out for a revolution," saying he would lead them in a march to the capital if necessary. He fled Bangkok last year while facing trial on corruption charges. Thaksin spoke to CNN as clashes between protesters and police intensified Monday, the beginning of the Thai New Year. The army fired a volley of shots at the anti-government protesters, who are demanding that the current prime minister step down. It was not immediately known whether the troops fired rubber bullets or live gunshots. Demonstrators commandeered at least two buses, rigged the steering wheels and sent them toward police officers, who fired at the vehicles in response. Other buses were seen burning. Video Watch more about the situation on the streets.
Earlier in the day, protesters hurled gasoline bombs, blocked intersections and set fires in many parts of Bangkok, the capital. Scores of riot police descended on the streets.
The Thai New Year, or Songkran, began Monday and is traditionally a multi-day celebration in the country. People roam the streets, drenching one another and passers-by with water guns or containers of water. This year, however, thousands of "red shirt" protesters – so named for their clothing – have rallied for days, saying that Abhisit’s 4-month-old government is not democratically elected and that he should call new elections. The demonstrators have given the prime minister repeated deadlines to resign, but those have come and gone.
On Sunday, Abhisit declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas after the protesters forced the postponement of a summit of Asian leaders in the southern coastal city of Pattaya, embarrassing the government.