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Monday, November 11, 2013

Thailand senate rejects controversial amnesty bill

Thailand senate rejects controversial amnesty bill

Thai opposition protesters rally in front of Democracy Monument in Bangkok on 11 NovemberSome Thai opposition protesters have stayed on the streets in Bangkok despite the senate's verdict
Thailand's senate has rejected an amnesty bill which could have led to the return to the country of the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators came onto the streets of Bangkok on Monday to express opposition to the bill.
The amnesty was meant for offences committed during and after Thailand's 2006 coup, which ousted Mr Thaksin.
His sister Yingluck Shinawatra - the current prime minister - promised last week to respect the Senate's decision.
All 141 senators present voted against the legislation, which had been approved unanimously by the lower house of parliament on 1 November.
"This house rejects this bill for consideration," said deputy senate speaker Surachai Lengboonlertchai.
The bill, which was proposed by the governing Pheu Thai party, applied to offences committed during the political turmoil after Mr Thaksin was removed from office.
Protest 'to continue'
Ms Yingluck's government had said the legislation was a necessary step towards reconciliation.
The BBC's Jonah Fisher, in Bangkok, says the bill's broad definition of politically related offences would have included those who opened fire on demonstrators in 2010, as well as Mr Thaksin himself.
He has been in self-imposed exile since his conviction on corruption charges over a property deal.
The former prime minister is a deeply polarising figure in Thai politics. He drew huge support from Thailand's rural poor but strong opposition from other sectors in society.
As tens of thousands of anti-government protesters remained on the streets in parts of Bangkok on Monday night, a spokesperson for the Pheu Thai party said the governing coalition would not bring the amnesty bill back to parliament.
"We believe from tomorrow the political crisis will start to ease as there are no reasons to maintain the protest," said Pormpong Nopparit.
But the main opposition Democrat Party has urged its supporters to observe a three-day national strike, beginning on Wednesday, in what correspondents say has turned into a campaign to bring down the government.