[JURIST] Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat [official profile; Nation backgrounder] demoted Police Chief Gen. Patcharawat Wongsuwan to an inactive position within the Prime Minister's office, according to media reports Friday. Patcharawat's removal comes a day after the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency [Financial Times report] because of continuing political protests [Bangkok Post materials] at two airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang [official websites], in the capital Bangkok. The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) [advocacy website, in Thai; advocacy statement, in English] initiated the protests at the airports earlier this week as part of an ongoing effort to bring down Somchai's government. No reason was given for Patcharawat's removal, but it is believed that he was not cooperating with the government's efforts to end the protests. The Thai News Agency has more. China Daily has additional coverage.
PAD protests have been ongoing throughout the year, based on its disapproval of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Somchai is the brother-in-law of Thaksin, who was ousted in military coup in 2006. Somchai took over as prime minister earlier this month after the Constitutional Court of Thailand [official website] ruled that then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej [BBC profile] had violated the constitution [JURIST report] by accepting payment for his appearance on a television cooking program. Critics claim that Somchai is just a proxy for Thaksin, who remains in exile while being tried in absentia for corruption.