Crisis end in sight

THE political crisis that has crippled Krabi’s tourism industry and seen more than 50 foreign embassies warn against travel to Thailand may soon be at an end.

The government meets today to put final touches to a ‘reconciliation roadmap’ which will cement a date for the dissolution of parliament.

This is the last demand before the red shirt leadership will agree to disband their Bangkok blockade and send supporters home, mainly to the rural northeast region.

Demonstrators from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) agreed with embattled PM Abhisit Vejjajiva’s proposal to hold elections on November 14, but remain suspicious and want this date confirmed.

Twenty-seven people have lost their lives and hundreds have been injured in the protracted conflict which has gripped the capital since mid-March.

The UDD have been camped in the prosperous commercial centre of Ratchaprasong Square since April 3.

Many hotels and the capital’s biggest shopping malls such as Paragon, Central World and Siam Discovery remain shut and thousands of ordinary people are unable to work.

Protesters stormed Chulalongkorn Hospital last week after false rumours circulated that security forces were planning an offensive from the building, meaning many seriously ill patients had to be transferred.

The conflict has had a dire effect on the Thai tourism industry with thousands of holidays to Krabi cancelled and many of the region’s hotels empty.

The UDD had demanded PM Abhisit Vejjajiva call snap elections to allow fugitive politician Thaksin Shinawatra to return to power, but now seem satisfied with the November date.

Thaksin-supporting red shirts want a ballot before the current leader of the Thai military steps down to ensure a sympathetic figure is installed in his place.

The former Manchester City FC chairman has been on the run since he was ousted in a military coup and faces corruption charges should he return to Thailand.

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