Thailand braces for mass protests over amnesty bill

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BANGKOK: Thailand braced for mass protests on Thursday as parliament debated a political amnesty that opponents fear will “whitewash” the past killing of unarmed demonstrators and allow ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra to return.

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Critics of the controversial legislation warn that it could unleash a fresh bout of political turmoil in a country rocked by a series of rival demonstrations since royalist generals ousted Thaksin in 2006.

The opposition Democrat Party has called for a mass rally against the planned amnesty at a railway station in Bangkok on Thursday evening, predicting that thousands will attend.

The ruling Puea Thai Party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra—Thaksin’s sister—has ordered all its lawmakers to support the bill, which would cover crimes related to political unrest since 2004.

A vote is expected in the coming days, although the opposition is demanding a delay.

“The bill will be a mechanism to solve conflicts. Asking to postpone it citing conflicts is not the right reason,” Puea Thai MP Chonlanan Srikaew told parliament.

AFP

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