2Bangkok Situation Update: About the dissolution offer

2Bangkok Situation Update: About the dissolution offer - May 5, 2010

The dissolution offer is at once a defeat for the government while also being a shrewd move to force the end of the rallies quickly. With elections to be held just after the military reshuffle and budgeting, it essentially denies Thaksin what he has wanted from the start--a quick dissolution so a new government could control these issues. The offer also allows the Red Shirts to leave gracefully while directing political attention to the next election.

While the Red Shirt crowd roared in approval of the dissolution offer, the Red leadership was initially silent. The offer forced them to basically accept what they have been asking for--dissolution--or risk showing that the protests were more about short term political jockeying over specific issues related to Thaksin's return.

The rudderless leadership of the Red Shirts after the hospital raid and Thaksin's hiring of a lobbyist firm a day before the Prime Minister's announcement all signaled that the dream of a quick dissolution was being abandoned and eyes were turning to new battlegrounds and goals.

This earlier dissolution is a back down for the government. It will be seen by critics as giving into "mob" intimidation and continuing this precedent for political skirmishes in the future. It allows the Red movement to leave intact as no amount of provocation has been able to shake the government coalition. Even the long sought after "bloodbath" has not resulted in public condemnation of the government, but instead was skillfully played to claim the protesters were armed and violent. There will be many in the anti-Thaksin camps who will be very dissatisfied if the Red movement walks away from this episode intact and is able to protest another day.

A key issue will be the charges against the Red Shirt leaders--following through on these are important on the government side--not only to deter others in the future, but to return control of this movement to more conventional political figures. This is now the goal of the Pheu Thai Party that will now seek to control and mobilize the Red Shirt groups for a triumphant return in the next election. The Red Shirt leaders have done their work for the party cause and can now be discarded or held up as martyrs in jail.

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