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Bomb shatters Bangkok's calm

The bombing, amid protests and an election, risks a crossfire of finger-pointing.

“Our movement is out for real democratization of Thailand,” he wrote in an e-mail from an undisclosed location. “That takes a lot more than an innocent mass rally to realize. However, violent means are not what we have in mind. True political education is.”

But Thai society, according to Buranaj, is “fed up with politics being the root cause of divisiveness.” His party member’s victory against the jailed opposition candidate, he said, suggests that more and more Thais support the government.

“We all want to move past these times of conflict and turmoil,” he said.

In Thailand’s climate of mistrust, the bombing will likely set off a crossfire of finger-pointing. The ruling party quickly explained that the attack helped justify its emergency decree; detractors have previously insinuated that mysterious bombings help the government retain extraordinary powers.

The emergency decree allows freezing bank accounts, banning political gatherings and censorship. Most recently, a reconciliation-themed public service announcement that even the prime minister considered acceptable was banned, in part, for displaying a torn Thai flag backed by weepy piano riffs.

Whether or not the government lifts its emergency decree soon, as it recently promised, the bus stop bombing may tinge future elections with fear.

This race was simply a by-election to replace a dead senator. A larger specter of violence could darken the pending election for prime minister, which still has no set date. Fresh elections, the prime minister has repeatedly announced, can only take place once tranquility is restored to Thailand.

More stories by Patrick Winn on Thai political unrest:

Thailand: From Fat Cats to Red Shirts

5 things you need to know about Bangkok's crisis

Thailand protests: A battle with no clear victors

Bangkok: First the protest. Now the hangover.

Is Thailand headed for civil war?