Here’s the latest news from Bangkok:
— Yesterday (Tues.) a court ruled that Thailand’s governing party must disband. The prime minister has now been forced from office. (Demonstrators had said they wouldn’t leave the airport until the PM quits.)
— Anti-government protesters announced yesterday that they’ll cease their protests at the international airport today (Wed.). (Demonstrations at the domestic airport, Don Mueang, continue.)
— Local media reports says flights will resume at Bangkok’s international airport as early as today, though it’s unclear when normal operations will resume. Some 300,000 foreign travelers are still stranded here.
Following are some media reports with more info:
Nation: “THAI resumes flights at Suvarnabhumi”
Thai Airways International is flying six special flights from Suvarnabhumi on Wednesday, the first since the airport was shut down on November 25.
AP: “Thai airports reopening after PM ousted by court”
Victorious anti-government protesters lifted their siege of Bangkok’s two airports Wednesday while leaders of the ousted government named a caretaker prime minister to lead the politically chaotic kingdom.
The country’s immediate crisis, which virtually severed Thailand’s air links to the outside world for a week, appeared to be over and the People’s Alliance for Democracy said it was ending six months of daily anti-government protests. But the alliance warned it would be on the streets again if a new government tried to return to its past policies.
“The partial opening can be as soon as today,” said Serirat Prasutanond, acting president for Airports of Thailand Pcl, the operator. “It will likely be outbound flights from Thai Airways because they have aircraft parked here.”
Nation: “Suvarnabhumi to reopen in 1-2 weeks”
Airports of Thailand Plc expects to reopen Suvarnabhumi Airport in 1 week at the earliest and 2 weeks at the latest, said the company’s acting president Serirat Prasutanond.
AFP: “Well-heeled tourists flee Thailand on private jets”
As most grumbling holiday-makers wait frustrated in hotels after airport-based protests stranded them in Thailand, the wealthy are simply slipping out of the “Land of Smiles” by private jets.
Charter airline companies are seeing their bookings soar despite the enormous cost, after demonstrators seized Bangkok’s main Suvarnabhumi international airport and the smaller domestic hub Don Mueang last week.
Protesters began clearing out of the airport on Wednesday after the premier was forced from office by a court, but it will take weeks to clear the backlog of an estimated 350,000 people who missed flights.
For some perspective on what the protests mean for Thailand’s future, check out this WSJ story:
“Thailand Protests End as Prime Minister Is Ousted”
Antigovernment protesters promised to end a crippling weeklong siege of Thailand’s main airports after a court ruling forced Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to step down and disbanded his government’s key parties for electoral fraud.
The pledge to lift the airport blockades comes as a relief for the more than 300,000 desperate international travelers stranded in Thailand, which has suffered severe damage to its economy and its reputation as a global tourist destination.
But the political stalemate that has paralyzed the Southeast Asian country of 65 million for months is no closer to resolution — a troubling omen for it as well as some other developing countries around the world.
Thailand’s fundamental problem — mirrored to differing degrees in China, India and other emerging economies — is a seemingly unbridgeable divide between relatively well-off urbanites, including many of the protesters at Bangkok’s airports, and millions of poorer rural citizens who have long felt left out of the country’s power structure.
And this Economist story includes some details on the political landscape and what may come next:
“Ousting the prime minister“:
In the end it was Thailand’s Constitutional Court that sent the prime minister packing. Somchai Wongsawat resigned on Tuesday December 2nd after his party and two others were dissolved for electoral fraud. But the noose around his neck was the week-long seizure of Bangkok’s two airports by opposition protesters, who have plunged the capital into chaos and sown fear of wider unrest. They may leave now, allowing Bangkok’s airport to resume flights in time for a busy tourist season, and to start clearing a backlog of over 300,000 stranded foreign tourists. But the political upheaval is not over, and damage to Thailand’s battered economy and international reputation may well continue.
(All emphasis mine.)
And finally, newley.com has been receiving a lot of traffic over the last week as folks search for updates on the airport closure. A reminder: if you’d like to receive updates when I post here, you can subscribe to my RSS feed. In addition, I’ve been posting shorter snippets on Twitter here.