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A barricade burning in the Bangkok riots 2009. Troops fired in the air early morning to disperse crowds in the capital, Bangkok, and 70 people reported injured. The demonstrators humiliated the government when they "swarmed" into the venue of a regional summit at the weekend, forcing some of heads of state to flee by helicopter. Abhisit was forced to cancel the meeting that was supposed to discuss a regional response to the global financial crisis. That move did little for his waning authority or Thailand's international image.
The unrest follows 2008's protests by anti-Thaksin demonstrators – wearing yellow T-shirts – who occupied Bangkok international airport, stranding about 250,000 foreign tourists for a week. Thai officials warn that the latest unrest could cost the country's tourism industry billions of pounds and 200,000 jobs.Thailand has been racked by instability ever since the 2006 coup – one of 18 revolutions the country has experienced.
The coup deposed Thaksin, accusing him of corruption. A deeply divisive figure, the populist leader is well known in the UK for his brief ownership of Manchester City football club. He enjoys strong support from the rural poor but is largely loathed by urban Thais. Anti-Thaksin supporters, backed by the army, wanted a return to the status quo: a government that is pro-monarchy and looks after the interests of the urban elite rather than those of the countryside. The country is deeply divided and the country's politicians seem unable to bridge the gap.