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Bangkok shutdown: Thai government keeps cool as protesters shut down Bangkok (+video)

Bangkok shutdown: A well-funded, well-organized protest movement has returned to the streets of Bangkok, shutting down seven major intersections in Bangkok. While key institutions are still operating, the two-month-long protest movement has disrupted Thailand's economy.

By / January 13, 2014

Antigovernment protesters rally outside the MBK Center shopping mall in the Pathumwan district, Sunday in Bangkok, Thailand. The protests seem more like déjà vu than the beginning of the end of the regime.

John Minchillo/AP

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A well-funded, well-organized protest movement has returned to the streets of Bangkok, shutting down seven key intersections in Bangkok with the intention of eventually toppling the Thai government. Key institutions like the central bank have switched to alternative venues away from the protests to keep the gears of the country turning. But there is no doubt the two-month-long protest movement has proven disruptive to the country’s economy.

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Managing Editor, Monitor Frontier Markets

Ben Arnoldy is managing editor for Monitor Frontier Markets. He has served as the Monitor's bureau chief in India and Northern California. 

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Thai Protesters Block Roads In Bid To Shut Capital (Wochit)
Anti-government protesters aiming to shut down central Bangkok took over key intersections Monday, halting much of the traffic into the Thai capital's main business district as part of a campaign to thwart elections and overthrow the democratically elected prime minister. The intensified protests, which could last weeks or more, were peaceful and even festive, as people sporting "Shutdown Bangkok" T-shirts blew whistles, waved Thai flags of various sizes and spread out picnic mats to eat on the pavement. Former Thai Prime Minister and Leader of the opposition, Abhisit Vejjajiva, said compromise is needed. Otherwise, life continued normally in much of the capital, with most businesses and shops open.

There are two main ways that our correspondent in Bangkok can see the political paralysis ending: Either the demonstrators create enough unrest to trigger a military intervention into politics, or the patience from Bangkok’s business community runs out on the demonstrators and their movement loses support. With the government very carefully avoiding confrontation and meeting in alternate locations, the demonstrators may have a tough time forcing a change before they outstay their welcome.

“The people in Bangkok whose business rely on Bangkok functioning … have a limited level of tolerance for the city being shut down,” says our correspondent. “After the end of today, there isn’t an overwhelming feeling of ‘This is the beginning of the end.’ In fact, I felt very much like this was déjà vu.... For the rest of the story, continue reading at our new business publication Monitor Frontier Markets.

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