Thai protesters stop airport blockade

Thai protesters stop airport blockade

Bangkok: Like music fans reluctantly leaving a week-long festival, Thai anti-government supporters dragged themselves away from Bangkok’s main airport on Wednesday, exchanging contact details and vowing to meet again soon.

There was even time for new-found friends to get an autograph from the stars before the stage was dismantled, the props cleared away and the cleaners moved in.

“I am sad that we are going," said Ranatip, 48, an unemployed office assistant from Bangkok who had camped out at Suvarnabhumi international airport for the past week along with thousands of People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) activists.

The PAD ended its blockade of Suvarnabhumi and the mostly domestic Don Muang airport on Wednesday, a day after the courts effectively sacked the government by dissolving three parties that made up the ruling coalition and banning their leaders.

The PAD, a loose coalition of conservative and mostly urban monarchists, businessmen and militarists, claimed the ruling as a victory for removing Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who they say is a pawn of his brother-in-law, ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

The end of the eight-day airport blockade could not come soon enough for an economy already feeling the effect of the global financial crisis.

Hundreds of thousands of travellers have been stranded during what should be the begining of the peak holiday season. But for the PAD activists packing up at the airport, it was all worth it.

By 11 am the crowd had dwindled to a few hundred.

With a last playing of the king’s anthem from a makeshift stage mounted on the back of a truck, organisers declared the party over.