[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
Thai arrests over Thaksin 'plot'
By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Bangkok

Police investigate bomb-making material in a car near Mr Thaksin's home on 24 August
Explosives were found in a car near Mr Thaksin's home, police say.
Thai police say they have arrested five army officers over an alleged plot to kill Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Two weeks ago police intercepted a car, driven by one of the officers and carrying a large bomb, near his home.

But opponents have accused Mr Thaksin of fabricating the plot to boost his chances in October's general election.

Opinion is divided between rural voters who praise his policies on the poor, and urban opponents who accuse him of corruption and abuse of power.

The officers accused of this assassination attempt include a major general and a colonel. All come from Thailand's secretive counter-insurgency command, known as ISOC.

If proven, the plot would be an alarming development for a country which put the era of coups and military intervention behind it more than a decade ago.

However there is deep scepticism among the urban middle class in Bangkok. Opinion polls suggest around half the city's population view it as a hoax by the prime minister to boost his popularity.

Security experts are divided. Some believe it was a genuine plot by a disaffected faction in the military, but that the bomb was meant just to scare Mr Thaksin - it was not primed to explode.

Political crisis

These are very tense and uncertain times in Thailand.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (file photo)
Mr Thaksin faces an election battle in October

Despite the annulment, after intervention by the king, of an election called by Mr Thaksin in April, his Thai Rak Thai party is still likely to win a re-run of the ballot thanks to its strong support base in the countryside.

No politician in Thai history has ever matched Mr Thaksin's vote-winning skills.

But his opponents say his abuses of power during his five years in office should disqualify him from office.

Thailand's recently-created democratic institutions have proved unable to adjudicate in this dispute, and it has now drawn in senior members of the military and elite figures close to the king.

The political crisis has until now played out peacefully, but many Thais fear it may be entering a more dangerous phase.

Thai PM alleges plot to kill him
25 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
'Bomb' found near Thai PM's home
24 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Thais face return to the ballot box
08 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Thai court rules election invalid
08 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Thai prime minister to step aside
04 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Thaksin Shinawatra
04 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Thailand
08 Jan 05 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific