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Thai police arrest top anti-government leader

  • Story Highlights
  • Chamlong Srimuang, a leader with PAD, was arrested from a polling booth
  • Since August 26, PAD and its supporters have laid siege to Government House
  • Police issued arrest warrants against Chamlong and nine other leaders
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BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Thai police arrested a key opposition leader Sunday as part of its crackdown on the anti-government movement that want leaders of the ruling People Power Party purged from the Cabinet.

Chamlong Srimuang, a leader with the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) was arrested early Sunday from a polling booth after he cast his ballot in the Bangkok's gubernatorial elections, the Thai News Agency said.

Since August 26, the PAD and its supporters have laid siege to the Government House -- the seat of the Thai government -- saying they will not leave until People Power Party (PPP) allies are ousted from office.

Police issued arrest warrants against Chamlong and nine other leaders, charging them with insurrection, conspiracy, illegal assembly and refusal to disperse, the TNA said.

A conviction on some of the charges can carry a sentence of life imprisonment or death, said the news agency -- which is owned by a public corporation controlled by the government.

On Friday, authorities took into custody another PAD leader, Chaiwat Sinsuwong.

The alliance accuses the PPP of being a proxy government for one-time Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006.

Thaksin returned to /topics/Thailand" class="cnnInlineTopic">Thailand after the PPP swept into power in December 2007, but fled again in August month just as he was to appear in a corruption case against him.

The PAD contends that the People Power Party wants to amend the constitution so Thaksin does not have to face charges.

The protesters have held mass street demonstrations, some of which ended in clashes with pro-government supporters.

The protests began over the summer with the PAD calling for the ouster of Samak Sundaravej, who was then the Thai Prime Minister.

Samak was eventually removed from office after a constitutional court ruled on September 9 that he had violated the constitution by appearing as a paid guest on a TV cooking show.


Opposition party supporters were further inflamed when Samak was replaced by Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin's brother-in-law.

The arrest of the two PAD leaders is likely to scuttle attempts by Somchai's government to defuse the political crisis.

All About ThailandThai PoliticsProtests and DemonstrationsSamak SundaravejThaksin Shinawatra

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