April 14, 2009 / 9:38 AM / 11 years ago

TIMELINE: Twists and turns in Thai political turmoil

(Reuters) - Thai anti-government protesters ended a three-week siege of the prime minister’s office on Tuesday, easing fears for the time being that prolonged turmoil would further damage the economy.

Here is a timeline tracing the recent political turmoil.

September 2005 - Sondhi Limthongkul, a former business associate of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, starts the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) street campaign to oust Thaksin.

April 2, 2006 - Thaksin wins a snap election called to silence Sondhi. A court later nullifies the result.

September 19 - Military stages a coup while Thaksin is at the United Nations in New York. He flies into exile in London.

October 1 - Former army commander-in-chief Surayud Chulanont is sworn in as interim prime minister.

May 30, 2007 - Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party dissolved for breaking election laws. He and 110 senior party members are banned from politics for five years.

August 20 - Voters endorse a new, military-drafted constitution, the 18th in 75 years of on-off democracy.

December 23 - The pro-Thaksin People Power Party (PPP) falls just short of outright majority in a general election.

January 28, 2008 - PPP leader Samak Sundaravej elected prime minister.

May 25 - PAD resumes street protests to overthrow what it says is a “Thaksin puppet government.”

July 31 - Thaksin’s wife Potjaman gets a three-year jail term for tax fraud.

August 11 - Thaksin and wife skip bail and flee to London.

August 26 - Thousands of PAD protesters storm Government House, Samak’s official compound, in attempt to unseat him.

September 2 - Samak declares a state of emergency in Bangkok after one person is killed and 45 hurt in clashes.

September 9 - Samak found guilty of violating constitution by hosting TV cooking shows while in office and he has to quit.

September 17 - Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin’s brother-in-law at the time, is elected prime minister by parliament.

October 21 - The Supreme Court sentences Thaksin to two years in jail in absentia for breaking a conflict-of-interest law.

November 25 - PAD protesters storm Bangkok’s main airport halting all flights. Up to 250,000 foreign tourists are stranded.

December 2 - Constitutional Court disbands the PPP, bans Somchai from politics for five years. PAD protesters say they will end blockade of Bangkok’s two airports on December 3 after the ruling.

December 15 - Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, an Oxford-educated economist, becomes third prime minister in as many months. About 200 red-shirted demonstrators block access to parliament, accusing him of being a stooge of the military.

March 26, 2009 - Red-shirted Thaksin supporters start a blockade of Government House.

April 10 - The red shirts target an ASEAN summit in the beach town of Pattaya.

April 11 - ASEAN summit is canceled after protesters overwhelm riot troops and storm part of the conference venue. Some of the 15 visiting leaders are evacuated by helicopter.

April 12 - Abhisit declares a state of emergency in Bangkok. About 50 protesters force their way into the interior ministry with Abhisit inside. He escapes. Phoning his supporters at Government House, exiled Thaksin calls for a “people’s revolution,” says he would lead an uprising if there was a coup.

April 13 - Army cracks down on protests in Bangkok with two people killed and 113 wounded in clashes.

April 14 - Protesters end their three-week siege of Government House, but the “red shirts” vow to return.

— Government extends the three-day New Year holiday for two more days to cover the whole of this week. Stock market and banks are to open as normal from April 16.

Writing by Bangkok bureau, Gillian Murdoch and David Cutler; Editing by Bill Tarrant

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