Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Friday promised an independent investigation into recent clashes between anti-government protesters know as red shirts [BBC backgrounder] and security officials that left more than 80 dead. Abhisit discussed plans for reconciliation aimed at helping the country heal after a nearly two month-long conflict in Bangkok [JURIST news archive]. He indicated that due process of law would play an important role in the reconciliation, and that all people would be encouraged to participate in the democratic process. Abhisit also discussed implementation of reforms aimed at decreasing economic and social divisions within the country. He failed to address the primary reason for the protests, which was the claim [BBC report] that his government came to power illegitimately and that new elections should be held. During their protests, the red shirts demanded that Abhisit resign and call for new elections. A member of Abhisit's cabinet, however, indicated that new elections would not be held [CBC report] until the situation in the country had stabilized. The Thai government implemented a curfew [JURIST report] in Bangkok and other areas of the country on Wednesday in response to violence that erupted when the leader of the red shirts announced an end to the protests. The curfew remains in effect as the government tries to maintain order.
The red shirts are known for supporting ousted [JURIST report] prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] who was removed from power during a 2006 military coup. Thaksin was convicted [JURIST report] in absentia on corruption charges in October 2008. Despite the conviction, the Cambodian government refused to extradite [JURIST report] the ousted prime minister to face a two-year prison sentence.