Thailand is close to civil war as its British-born PM rejects deal with angry Red Shirts

So how did Thailand, a mostly Buddhist nation of 66 million, come from economic success to such a stark political precipice?

The country, officially a constitutional monarchy, has experienced 18 military coups since 1932 – but continues to hold elections.

Thais are glancing nervously at the army, believed to be badly split behind a brittle façade of unity. Generals have launched 18 coups since 1932, but almost as great a fear now is that enlisted men could join protesters and help turn the protests into a full-scale uprising.

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