Growing Instability in Thailand

Growing Instability in Thailand

Growing political instability and unrest in Thailand, potentially exacerbated by a royal succession crisis

Thailand’s army seized power in a bloodless coup on May 22, 2014, after months of demonstrations and violence. On May 7, 2014, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinwatra was ordered to step down on corruption charges from Thailand’s Constitutional Court, and the military junta seized control of the government. General Prayuth Chan-ocha was appointed prime minster by the military-appointed parliament in August 2014.

Thailand’s monarchy is led by King Bhumibol—the longest-reigning monarch in the world—who has been on the throne since 1946 and who is eighty-seven years old. A strict lèse-majesté law prohibits discussion of potential royal succession, which has proven controversial given the monarch’s poor health and advancing age.

In 2013–2014, demonstrations by tens of thousands of “yellow shirts” (those who opposed Prime Minister Shinwatra and her family) and counter-protests by “red shirts” (those who supported the Shinwatras) delayed national elections. She was viewed by the opposition as a puppet leader of her billionaire exiled brother, Thaksin Shinwatra, who was ousted by an army coup in 2006. The next elections were planned for the end of 2015, but was delayed again to 2016 by the Thai government.

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