Thais Pray For Peace a Week After Protests End

Violence in the streets of Thailand has been replaced with prayer as Thais from all faiths joined services to pray for peace in the country.

Thousands of Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Hindus crowded the streets of Bangkok on Wednesday to hold interfaith prayer gatherings on the same sites that a week earlier had been stained with the blood of government soldiers and protestors.

"It is very important for all of us in Bangkok to forgive and move ahead," Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra told Reuters.

Paribatra said the "Restore the City With Religious Ceremony" event was meant to "wipe away a bad path and to create a better future."

Nine weeks of the country's worst political violence on record ended last week after red shirt protest leaders surrendered to the government. The clashes killed 85 people, wounded 2,000, and left several of Bangkok's landmark buildings destroyed.

Observers say that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, whose alleged illegitimate rise to power was the source of the recent violence, must now strive for political reforms that will bridge the country's socio-economic gaps.

Asean chief Surin Pisuwan told the Nation that the protests were "a lesson for all developing countries, not just Thailand, to learn how to manage social inequality."

"It is not about being democratic or undemocratic, but about the effectiveness of social management agencies," Pisuwan said.

Meanwhile, Thai authorities have also put out an arrest warrant for former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the alleged force behind the red shirts, who has now been charged with terrorism, punishable by death.

Night-time curfews will remain intact in Bangkok until Saturday.

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