Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, faces the opposition of palace and military factions who see her brother as a usurper of royal privileges.
Sunday's by-election in Thailand offer a window on the continuing divide, and hints at the enduring strength of the red shirt opposition.
Thailand’s government accuses the red-shirt opposition of trying to topple revered King Bhumibol. Critics argue it’s using the monarchy – and strict laws against defaming it – as an excuse to crack down.
Protesters burned buildings around Bangkok Wednesday even after troops overran the red-shirt camp and their leaders surrendered. Clashes left five people dead.
Thai red shirt protesters met with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Tuesday, who offered to hold parliamentary elections in November. Protest leaders say they will not end their Bangkok occupation unless elections are held by September.
But questions over a US role in any economic grouping and rivalry between China and Japan may thwart a rapid rollout of either plan.
The reclusive regime in Burma (Myanmar) is touting its newfound openness, but skeptics wonder whether Webb's rare visit will bring any democratic reform.