Thai lawmakers start debate on amnesty bill

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai lawmakers are debating an amnesty for political offenders, the latest test of strength between supporters and opponents of exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

A bill proposed by a member of the ruling Pheu Thai Party would provide amnesty to all those charged with political offenses since a 2006 military coup. The bill being debated Wednesday excludes Thaksin who was ousted in the coup from the amnesty.

Thaksin’s sister is now the prime minister, and their opponents fear that if the bill passes it would pave the way for another measure pardoning him.

In 2010, about 90 people were killed when Thaksin’s supporters occupied part of downtown Bangkok before being swept away by the army.

Thousands of protesters gathered outside Parliament Wednesday but were kept at bay by police.

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