Pro-Thaksin protesters announce mass rally 'to topple govt'

Thailand's "red shirts" announced plans to hold mass rallies from mid-March in a bid to force the dissolution of parliament and new elections.

Pro-Thaksin protesters announce mass rally 'to topple govt'

Thailand's "red shirts" on Wednesday announced plans to hold mass rallies from mid-March in a bid to force the dissolution of parliament and new elections.

The United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), which backs ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, will rally in the capital in what is expected to be its first lengthy demonstration since violent protests last April.

Jatuporn Prompan, one of the UDD's leaders, said protesters would gather in the provinces and around Bangkok on March 12 before merging on March 14 at Sanam Luang, an open area in the capital traditionally used for political rallies.

Another UDD leader, Nattawut Sakeua, added: "We want the government to dissolve parliament and let people vote. If we get a million people and the government remains stubborn, we will meet to review our strategy."

On Wednesday, UDD leaders backed away from calling the rally a "final battle", a term used on other occasions, and did not repeat a pledge to force the government out in seven days.

Jatuporn said the rally could extend all the way to a road outside Government House, the office of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that the UDD occupied for three weeks last April.

"Silent coup"

The UDD says Abhisit's six-party coalition is illegitimate because it was not elected but put together by the army in a "silent coup" after a pro-Thaksin ruling party was dissolved and two prime ministers allied to him removed by court rulings.

Security forces are braced for a big turnout and a possible violent response to a court verdict due on Friday on whether to seize $2.3 billion in assets belonging to the family of Thaksin, whose popularity among the rural masses gave him an unprecedented two terms in office before his removal in a 2006 coup.

The "red shirts" have vowed not to protest on the day of the verdict and the rally date -- two weeks after the ruling -- was apparently set to show they were not demonstrating only on the former premier's behalf.

"This movement is against double standards in law enforcement and tampering in politics by those unelected and privileged elites," said Veera Muksikapong, another UDD leader. "Thaksin is merely one of the victims."

Reuters

Last Mod: 24 Şubat 2010, 13:04
Add Comment