Order restored in Thailand following unrest

Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said order has been restored to the capital Bangkok following weeks of unrest across the country.

On Wednesday troops moved in to dissolve anti-government protests across the city, with a curfew now in place.

Eight anti-government Red Shirt protest leaders have been taken into custody, with as many as 50 feared dead.

Following the government action, protestors went on the rampage across the city, looting and setting several key buildings – including the stock exchange – alight.

In his first televised address since the violence, Mr Abhisit said: “Fellow citizens, we all live in the same house.

“Now, our house has been damaged. We have to help each other.

“We can certainly repair damaged infrastructure and buildings, but the important thing is to heal the emotional wounds and restore unity among the Thai people.”

Following the latest outbreak of violence, the Foreign Office continues to advise against “all but essential” travel to Bangkok.

Red Shirt Protestors

Protestors had occupied areas of central Bangkok since March, calling for the dissolution of parliament and fresh elections.

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While offering negotiations, Mr Abhisit refused these demands.

Following the latest outbreak of violence the prime minister promised to “move swiftly to restore normalcy”.

Addressing the nation from a military base north of Bangkok from where the government has been operating Mr Abhisit said the events were “one of the worst episodes Thailand has ever faced” with “great challenges” now ahead.

Thailand remains deeply divided between Reds Shirts, mostly urban and rural poor who are demanding the ousting of a government they condemn as undemocratic, and rival pro-establishment Yellow Shirts who represent the nation’s elites.

The Reds are mostly supporters of billionaire ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. The exiled tycoon was accused of human rights abuses and corruption, but won grassroots support with populist policies.

Thaksin’s allies were later ejected from parliament following a controversial court ruling, paving the way for Abhisit’s administration to be appointed in a 2008 army-backed parliamentary vote.