Key dates in Thailand’s political crisis

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Three years after a military coup toppled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s political crisis continues with protesters regrouping to mark the third anniversary of the ouster of their hero. Here are key recent developments:

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Sept. 19, 2006 _ Thailand’s military stages a bloodless coup while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is overseas, following months of rallies that drew thousands who accused the former telecommunications mogul of corruption and abuse of power. The military sets up an interim government.

December 2007 _ The People’s Power Party, a proxy for Thaksin’s disbanded party, easily wins general elections and leads a coalition that names Samak Sundaravej prime minister.

May 2008 _ The People’s Alliance for Democracy, comprising middle-class businesspeople, monarchists and opponents of globalization, launches protests against Samak, accusing him of being Thaksin’s puppet.

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Aug. 26, 2008 _ Tens of thousands of protesters take over the prime minister’s compound.

Sept. 9, 2008 _ Samak is removed from office after a court rules his appearance on a TV cooking show constituted a conflict of interest.

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Sept. 17, 2008 _ Parliament elects Somchai Wongsawat prime minister. Protesters say Somchai is also Thaksin’s puppet and vow to stay at the prime minister’s compound until he leaves office.

Oct. 7, 2008 _ Police and protesters clash after authorities try to clear the streets around Parliament to allow in lawmakers. Two people die, and hundreds are injured.

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Oct. 21, 2008 _ Thaksin, in self-imposed exile, is sentenced to two years in jail for breaking a conflict-of-interest law.

Nov. 25, 2008 _ Members of the protest alliance take over Bangkok’s main airports, halting all flights and stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers.

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Dec. 2, 2008 _ Somchai’s party is found guilty of electoral fraud and dissolved. Somchai is barred from politics for five years. Anti-government protesters declare victory.

Dec. 15, 2008 _ The leader of the opposition Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva, is chosen as prime minister.

March 26, 2009 _ Anti-Abhisit demonstrators surround the prime minister’s office, demanding his resignation and new elections.

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April 11, 2009 _ Anti-Abhisit demonstrators swarm the site of the annual East Asian Summit, forcing its cancellation. Asian leaders leave the beachside conference by helicopter and boats.

April 13, 2009 _ Soldiers spray automatic weapons fire into the air and throw tear gas to clear anti-government protesters blocking roads in the capital. At least two people are killed when fighting erupts between protesters and residents.

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April 14, 2009 _ Protest leaders call off their demonstrations, abandoning their last encampment around the seat of government as soldiers close in. Several are taken into police custody.

Sept. 15, 2009 _ The Thai Cabinet approves the use of a special security law _ the Internal Security Act _ ahead of a coup anniversary rally.

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asia news

By The Associated PressSaturday, September 19

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