December ASEAN summit shifts to Chiang Mai
December's summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been moved from Bangkok to Chiang Mai to avoid ongoing anti-government protests in the capital, media and ministerial sources said Monday, according to dpa.
Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat announced the shift over the weekend during a visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand's second-largest city, located 550 kilometres north of Bangkok, the Bangkok Post said.
The change in venue, however, has yet to be confirmed with Thailand's fellow ASEAN members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
"It's 90-per-cent certain, but this will have to be ruled on soon," Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said.
Bangkok has been the scene of anti-government protests led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) since May, culminating in the seizure of Government House on August 26.
The PAD continued to occupy the seat of the administration, forcing Somchai's government to shift offices to Don Muaeng, Bangkok's old international airport.
There are fears that the PAD would disrupt the ASEAN summit if the December 15-18 meetings are held in Bangkok.
Chiang Mai is the hometown and a political power base for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled by a military coup in September 2006.
Somchai, Thaksin's brother-in-law, also has a house in Chiang Mai.
The PAD is a loose coalition of conservative groups opposed to the return to power of Thaksin and his populist policies.