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Pattaya Daily News

08 April 2009 :: 13:04:44 pm 27810

Red-Shirts Begin Anti-Government Protest “To Topple Government”

BANGKOK, April 8 - Red Shirt anti-government protesters are gathering at their main protest side at Government House for their planned massive rally intended to topple the Democrat-led government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
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The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) hope that tens of thousands of their supporters from the provinces and metropolitan Bangkok will join what they claim as being larger that any previous demonstration in Bangkok. The event is focused on three locations Government House, the Royal Plaza and the home of Privy Council President Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda’s Si Sao Theves residence.

About 1,000 red-clad supporters of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra gathered at Metropolitan Police headquarters, waiting for the demonstrators who will march from Government House to the home of Privy Council President.

Mr. Thaksin has been unreservedly critical of the chief privy councillor, whom he blames for having been behind all bids to restore what he calls “aristocratism”, and trying to rid the country of “truly democratic” rule, beginning with the military coup detat in 2006 which led the former premier to seek informal self-exile rather than returning to Thailand to confront his accusers.

Convicted former prime minister Thaksin last week urged his supporters, led by the ‘Red Shirts’, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), to come out in full force on Wednesday.

Promoting for many days the Wednesday “April 8″ attraction as Thailand’s largest-ever demonstration, complete with its own 24-hour television channel, the convicted former premier and his UDD supporters claim the protest will draw 300,000 participants in the capital, and additional numbers at provincial offices nationwide.

Mr. Thaksin has asked the public to repeat “the people’s revolution” of past times and continues calling for a historic change to true democracy in Thailand.

Thousands of red-clad demonstrators have rallied at Government House since March 26, demanding Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva step down, and calling for fresh elections. Mr. Abhisit on Tuesday said his government may have to take drastic action against protesters if their much-touted mass protest in Bangkok beginning Wednesday becomes a riot.

He said his government is trying to avoid confrontation with the protesters demonstrating at the gates of his offices, blocking entrances for 12 days since March 26.

The government has been most lenient and will not initiate any violence against the UDD protesters, but ?drastic action may have to be used?, which if taken, will be intended to have minimal losses or no loss at all, said the prime minister.

Mr. Abhisit said he did not believe special laws such as using an emergency decree would enable state officials to do more than under normal circumstances. Instead, such special laws, if implemented, would hurt the country’s image in the eyes of international community.

Police had stepped up security at Prem’s resident as concrete blocks, barbed wire and fire brigade water pumping trucks were placed to prevent protester access. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, heading security affairs, inspected the surrounding areas including Sri Ayudhaya Road and the Army Club.

During his inspection, the UDD protesters shouted and shouted derisively at him. The deputy prime minister reaffirmed that police would not carry firearms and must strictly inspect for arms among the protesters. He said the police would treat the protesters softly and urged them to demonstrate peacefully within the law.

Mr. Suthep said he expected around 20,000 protesters would attend the demonstration, far less that the 300,000 participants the UDD has been claiming. (TNA)

Thai opposition mounts huge protest

Thai authorities are bracing themselves for violence as hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters gather in Bangkok in the biggest attempt yet to force Abhisit Vejjajiva, the prime minister, from office.

Protest organisers said they were expecting about 300,000 people – mainly supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted as prime minister in 2006 – to turn up in the capital on Wednesday from across the country.

Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, reporting from Bangkok, said the protesters 200,000 so far according to organisers – had gathered at Government House and many of them were marching towards the home of General Prem Tinsulanonda.

Thaksin has blamed Prem, an adviser to Thailand’s king and a former premier, for organising the military coup that ousted him.

The protesters accuse Abhisit of being a pawn of the military and Wednesday’s rally comes a day after demonstrators attacked Abhisit’s motorcade, smashing a car window but leaving the prime minister unhurt.

Abhisit has so far avoided all confrontation with the so-called Red Shirts and adopted the same tone on Wednesday as the protesters summoned supporters to Bangkok for what they called “D-day” protests.

Abhisit vows restraint

“There’s a group of people wanting to create chaos, but the government will do everything to restrain them,” he said in an interview on Channel 3 television.

“If there’s rioting, we will have to do something. I can affirm there will be no violence starting from the government’s side.”

Earlier in the week Abhisit warned that the authorities would not tolerate violence or “allow a civil war or a people’s revolution”.

For now, the rally was mostly carnival-like with rousing speeches, our correspondent said. But the authorities were taking no chances as more people were expected to be bussed in from rural areas that form the backbone of Thaksin’s support.

Major-General Suporn Phansua, a spokesman for the Bangkok police, said 10,000 security personnel had been deployed at major sites including Government House and Prem’s residence.

The government says the protests will not disrupt a summit this week of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and regional partners, including China and Japan, in the coastal resort of Pattaya, about 145km south of Bangkok.

Al Jazeera and agencies

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Politics News

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