Thailand

Red Shirts to surround government after Sunday protest

Demonstrators brandish a poster of Thaksin Shinawatra in Bangkok
Demonstrators brandish a poster of Thaksin Shinawatra in Bangkok Reuters

Red Shirt demonstrators in Bangkok issued an ultimatum to the Thai government Sunday to quit or be surrounded. The supporters of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said they will march on the military barracks which houses government buildings, if Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his cabinet do not step down.

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About 100,000 protesters converged on the capital for the protest – well below the million that organisers said they would mobilise.

They want Abhisit to call a general election and say they will continue to demonstrate until he does.

"We will leave here to listen to the government's answer at the 11th Infantry Unit where the government is," Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar told reporters behind the rally stage. "If they fail to answer our demands we will announce our next step."

Q+A: Correspondent Arnaud Dubus in Bangkok

Nattawut said most of the rally crowd would travel by bus, car and on foot at 9am Monday, to the barracks on Bangkok's northern outskirts, where the government has mounted a security operation with soldiers and police.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who is in charge of the country's security, said the protesters would be permitted to approach the barracks. It is too early to say whether emergency rule will be invoked.

The turnout weakens the Red Shirts’ case, says correspondent Arnaud Dubus.

“They cannot hope to put pressure on the government so that the government dissolves the parliament with this number of people,” he says.
 

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