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Unpaid Thai farmers call off airport tractor protest

Published on Feb 21, 2014 1:51 PM
Thai rice farmers wait by farm trucks and tractors on a highway road in Ayutthaya province before they head to protest at Suvarnabhumi airport on Feb 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thai farmers called off a tractor drive to Bangkok's main airport to protest against not being paid under a rice subsidy scheme after an assurance they would get their money, a spokesman said, welcome news for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The rice subsidy programme was among the populist policies pioneered by Yingluck's billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister central to a conflict that has divided Thais for years and triggered protests, violent at times, that have paralysed parts of the capital for weeks.

The farmers had said they wanted to make a symbolic protest, with no plans to block air traffic as in 2008, when protesters forced Bangkok's two main airports to close for more than a week.

Former member of parliament Chada Thaiseth, speaking for the farmers gathered in Ayutthaya province, said they had been assured of payment.

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