Bangkok shutting down – is a military takeover imminent?


Tourism in Bangkok reached a state of uncertainty this weekend. The Thai Tourism Board and local tour operators find everything normal, anti government protesters vow to “shut down” Bangkok from Monday. Analyst Rajiv Biswas fears an escalation of violence in Thailand could trigger a military coup as the army attempts to stabilize things.

Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government protests that have rocked the capital, said he would launch a “Bangkok shutdown” on January 13 in a bid to scuttle a general election set for February 2 and force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her cabinet to resign.

The protesters, who accuse Yingluck of being a puppet of her self-exiled brother and former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra, reject the poll, arguing they want an appointed “people’s council” to oversee reforms before any future vote. In the process they have staged some of the largest street demonstrations in Thai history.

The crisis that has dragged on since early November has hit the Thai economy. In a DW interview, the chief Asia economist of the analytics firm IHS, Rajiv Biswas, examines the impact the political unrest is having on the Thai economy and warns that an escalation of the already volatile situation might prompt a military coup in the Southeast Asian nation.

Read an Interview by German news DW