Abhisit Vejjajiva äpē´sĭt wāchä´chēwä [key], 1964–, Thai politician, prime minister of Thailand (2008–11), b. Newcastle, England. Born into a wealthy Thai-Chinese family, Abhisit was educated in England and Thailand and held several British and Thai university teaching posts prior to entering politics. In 1992 he joined Thailand's Democrat party and won a parliamentary seat. Deputy party leader from 1999, he ran unsuccessfully for the party leadership post in 2001 but was elected party leader four years later. A longstanding opponent of corruption, he objected to the 2006 coup that deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, his political opponent. In Dec., 2008, after two of Thaksin's allies had been removed as prime minister by court decisions, Abhisit and the opposition Democrats secured the opportunity to form a government. His government faced serious challenges in the streets from Thaksin supporters seeking to force him to resign, and it was defeated in the 2011 elections by Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister, and the For Thais party. In 2013 Abhisit was charged with murder for issuing orders to security forces during demonstrations in 2010 that led to shooting deaths, but the criminal court dismissed the charges after Yingluck's government was overthrown. He stepped down as party leader in 2019 after the party did poorly in the general election.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Southeast Asia History: Biographies