LIVE: Tensions ease in Bangkok
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LIVE: Tensions ease in Bangkok

** If you are joining us on Wednesday, it has been a mostly calm day in Bangkok ahead of the king’s birthday tomorrow. Here is AP’s latest report on the situation: Thai protesters ‘occupy’ police HQ, then leave **

After a dramatic change in strategy by the Thai government this morning that headed off violent clashes and prompted anti-government protesters to claim ‘victory’, the question on everyone’s lips today is: ‘What next?’. The Yingluck Shinawatra government is still intact and it looks like the street clashes are over, for now. With King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday, a major national holiday, coming up on Thursday, the next couple of days look set to be quiet. Speculation, however, is rife that this could be a short-lived peace.

Here we live blog today’s events and will keep you updated on many major developments.

+++All times in local Thai time (GMT+7)+++

7.00pm: Closing words by Siam Voices head writer Saksith Saiyasombut:

I guess most observers are still scratching their heads at what they have seen today. Where in the past few days tear gas, rubber bullets, molotovs, stones and firecrackers were thrown back and forth, handshakes, hugs and roses were exchanged today as the police at the Metropolitan Police HQ decided to literally “open house” in order to defuse tensions and even allowed them to briefly take over the lawn at Government House for a lunch picnic. While claimed as a “victory” by the protesters, it is still a hollow one (also considering that at least 3 people have lost their lives) but they still were able to “save face”.

However, protest leader Suthep Thuagsuban is still committed in his anti-Thaksin campaign and it is only a matter of time when he or similar anti-Thaksin (and ultimately anti-democratic) forces are back on the streets again. Another concerning factor is the involvement of the military to mediate between the two sides. While it is still enjoying a tenuous truce with the Yingluck government, these and previous protests have shown that alliances can swing rapidly one way or the other.

For prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government, this past November was one single big nightmare: starting with the botched amnesty bill that started these protests, then the defeat at the Constitutional Court, only to be spared the ultimate humiliation in the ICJ Preah Vihear ruling. But this nightmare for her government is still not over yet and she has to tread very carefully from now on. This mess is far from being over, the conflict is only taking a break for the King’s birthday on Thursday – and who knows when and what the next plot twist in this Thai political drama will be.

This concludes the Siam Voices live-blog(s) for now, thank you very much for following and hopefully we will be back with regular posts in the next few days. Good Night Thailand!

6.05pm: The BBC‘s Joanathan Head tweeted out something interesting:

On the same topic this AFP story on the military’s role is also worth reading. Key excerpt:

A senior military source with knowledge of the Sunday meeting told AFP that the heads of the army, navy and air force refused to throw their support behind the premier. “None of the three commanders took the government side,” said the official, on condition of anonymity. “They said if the government used force, they would stand next to the people.”

Thai army wary of intervening after post-coup chaos“, AFP, December 3, 2013

5.10pm: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra just made a TV announcement (that was notably also broadcasted on the protesters’ Blue Sky Channel). Nothing major.

3.30pm: Speaking of the devil, this here  has been posted on the Facebook by Thaksin’s lawyer and former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama.

2.35pm: In his speech Suthep mentioned the 109 disqualified politicians, who were banned from politics in 2008, after their People’s Power Party (the predecessor of Pheu Thai) was found guilty of electoral fraud and dissolved by the Constitutional Court. Their ban is about to expire this week and – like the previously banned 111 of the Thai Rak Thai (Thaksin’s original party) – are expected the return to the PT fold and that’s what Suthep is aiming at now.

Maybe it would be advisable for the 109 to keep a low profile and not assume a political position for the next few months.

2.30pm: Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban is speaking. He declares the anti-government protesters’ occupation of Government House and Metropolitan Police HQ a success [even though protesters met with no resistance]. He continues to say that the fight is not over and they will not stop until the Thaksin system has been eradicated. Suthep adds that the dissolution of Parliament and new elections “means nothing to us”.

2.05pm: All gone, Suthep to speak now:

1.55pm: Before the protesters dispersed, the former massage-palor-tycoon-turned-anti-corruption-vigilante-MP Chuwit Kamolvisit appeared at Govt House but did not get the reaction he expected:

1.45pm: The protesters have finished their lunch picnic on the Govt House lawn and are leaving for Democracy Monument to listen to Suthep’s speech:

1.30pm: Suthep is reenergizing himself with an i/v drip (that’s what we assume) before he’s scheduled to give a speech at 2pm inside the Govt Complex:

1.00pm: With their targets “seized” (and without any resistance), what’s next? For prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra it’s business as usual as she wrapped up a cabinet and is now off to Hua Hin for the HM The King’s birthday celebrations. Meanwhile, Suthep is looking at groceries…!

12.30pm: Protesters have also moved onto the lawn of Government House.

12.00pm: Here’s a collection of tweets