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article imageThai PM flees after protesters storm government buildings

By Abdul Kuddus     Dec 1, 2013 in World
Bankok - Following week-long massive anti-government protests, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had to hastily leave a police compound for an undisclosed location, according to reports.
Reportedly Ms Yingluck was at a police sports club when protesters stormed the complex. Riot police fired tear gas at anti-government mobs tried to storm the prime minister's office complex and Bangkok's police headquarters on Sunday, USA Today reported.
Reportedly, protesters are seeking to seize 10 government offices, six television stations, police headquarters and the Government House, where Yingluck's office is.
A proposed amnesty bill triggered the protests. Yingluck's ruling Pheu Thai party tried to push the amnesty law through Parliament. However the upper house of parliament voted against it. The opponents fear the bill seeks to ease the return of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
A military coup in 2006 removed Thaksin and two years later convicted him of graft and abuse of power. However, from his self-imposed exile in Dubai, he continues to influence Thailand’s politics through his sister Yingluck's cabinet.
The protests attended by an estimated 100,000 people in Bangkok are mostly middle-class residents and Democrat Party supporters who form the bulk of anti-Thaksin movement for several years.
The protesters backed by the opposition Democrat Party accuse Ms Yingluck of being a puppet of her brother. They seek to replace Ms Yingluck’s elected government with an unelected "people's council.”
Already anti-government protesters have taken over the headquarters of state broadcaster Thai PBS were taken over according to reports.
However, following directions from Ms Yingluck, authorities have exercised extreme restraint over the past week as the protesters occupied various government ministries and offices.
The conflict in Thailand broadly pits Thailand's elite royalists, wealthy businessmen and the urban middle class against millions of poor supporters of Thaksin, known as the Red Shirts who represent Thailand’s lowest-income provinces north of Bangkok.
Yingluck's party enjoys overwhelming electoral support from the Red Shirts who benefited from Thaksin's populist programs.
But the opponents want to change Thailand’s political system to a less democratic one where the educated, elites and the royalty would have greater stake than directly elected lawmakers.
Since last week the protesters had seized the Finance Ministry, turned off power at police headquarters, camped at a government office complex and briefly stormed the army headquarters compound urging the military to support them.
Violence erupted Saturday night when Red Shirt supporters and anti-government groups clashed in a north-eastern Bangkok. At least two people and died and 45 injured in the clashes, according to Reuters.
The political turmoil and deterioration of security threatens to thwart Thailand’s economy and undermine democracy which had struggled to strengthen amid a history of coups.
Anti-government protesters cheer after they tear down barricades during a demonstration outside Gove...
Anti-government protesters cheer after they tear down barricades during a demonstration outside Government House in Bangkok
With permission by Reuters / Dylan Martinez
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