Thailand's 'yellow shirts' block parliamentary debate

Police standing guard as Thailand's "yellow shirts" protest
Image caption The "yellow shirts" were able to stop parliament from debating a bill they see as controversial

Protesters in Thailand have blocked parliament to postpone debate on a reconciliation bill designed to ease a six-year political crisis.

The anti-government "yellow-shirt" group fear that a proposed amnesty would allow deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return.

Parliament's Speaker said the debate would be shelved until the situation improved.

Mr Thaksin lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai.

"I have ordered the meeting to be postponed indefinitely to preserve the atmosphere and peace in the country," House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont told reporters.

"We'll have to analyse the situation before determining when the meeting will be held again."

Rivalry between Mr Thaksin's supporters and opponents, or yellow shirts as they are also known, has been a frequent cause of political unrest in the country.

The yellow shirts say that the reconcillation bill would grant amnesty to people guilty of political crimes between 2005-2010, when the country was in crisis.

The group is made up of royalists, ultra-nationalists and the urban middle class also known as the People's Alliance for Democracy.

They were behind the huge street protests that led up to the military coup of September 2006 and the ones two years later which led to Mr Thaksin's allies being forced from power.

Mr Thaksin, who still denies any wrongdoing, is in self-exile to avoid a jail term for abusing his powers while in office.

His sister, Yingluck, is currently prime minister.

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