Thailand | A New Constitution and the End of Military Rule
- Thailand Main Page
- A Military Coup and Government Failure
- Economic Collapse and Subsequent Growth
- The Violent Drug Trade and Insurgency; A Tsunami Devastates
- Fallout from a Corrupt Government
- A New Constitution and the End of Military Rule
- The People's Alliance for Democracy and Protesting Status Quo
- Anti-Government Protests Continue and Turn Deadly
- Party Backed by Thaksin Shinawatra Sweeps 2011 Elections
- Elections Held Despite Anti-Government Protests
- Military Stages a Coup
A New Constitution and the End of Military Rule
In the country's first referendum, held in August 2007, Thailand voted in favor of a new constitution, which set the stage for parliamentary elections and a return to democracy after a year of military rule. In December's parliamentary elections, the People Power Party, which supports former prime minister Thaksin, won 233 out of 480 seats in parliamentary elections, a clear rebuke to military rule. Thaksin, who had been in self-imposed exile in London, said he would return to Thailand but not enter politics. Samak Sundaravej, of the People Power Party, was elected prime minister by Parliament in January 2008, thus completing the transition back to democracy. Samak, a controversial and contentious figure, called himself a "proxy" for Thaksin and said he would work to tackle poverty in rural Thailand. In the 1970s and 1990s, Samak supported violent crackdowns on students and pro-democracy campaigners.
Thaksin returned to Thailand in February 2008 after 17 months in exile. He said he was prepared to face corruption charges related to property he acquired from a state agency during his tenure as prime minister. In July, his wife, Pojaman Shinawatra, was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to three years in jail. Thaksin failed to appear for a court appearance in August and fled with his wife to London. He left behind about $2 billion in assets that was frozen by the military when it assumed power in 2006. He said he would not receive a fair trial in Thailand.
In July, Unesco, the cultural arm of the United Nations, designated the Preah Vihear temple, which sits on the Cambodian side of the Cambodian-Thai border, as a UN World Heritage Site. The move stirred nationalist emotions on both sides and fueled the tension between the countries. Both countries moved troops to disputed land near the temple. Squirmishing broke out between Cambodian and Thai troops in October 2008, and two Cambodian soldiers were killed.