Defiant Thai protesters resume city march

Thousands of protesters streamed towards parts of the Thai capital declared no-go zones by the government on Tuesday.

Defiant Thai protesters resume city march

Thousands of protesters streamed towards parts of the Thai capital declared no-go zones by the government on Tuesday, reversing an earlier decision to call off the march to avert possible clashes with security forces.

"Red shirt" protesters occupying the city's plush shopping district for a fourth day were hemmed in by riot police, but called on demonstrators based at Pan Fah Bridge in Bangkok's historic heart to fan out across the city in defiance of government orders.

Thousands of "red shirts" on motorcycles poured into the city's embassy and banking district, blowing whistles, peeping horns and waving flags as riot police quickly moved in.

"From now we will make an offensive move," a protest leader Nattawut Saikua told the crowd. "Let our people from Pan Fah march to all the banned 11 routes immediately. If there's anything blocking us, break in with peace."

The supporters of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who are demanding a new election, had earlier said they were calling off the proposed parade to avoid clashes with the thousands of riot police and soldiers who poured into the city's busy Rachaprasong intersection to block them.

But security forces made no attempt to remove the tens of thousands of protesters, some of whom hugged riot police.

Just two hours after an army spokesman announced on national television there would be "no crackdown", protest leaders told demonstrators to resume the march.

The defiant act will pile pressure on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to take action and put a swift end to the 25-day protest campaign.

The mostly rural "red shirt" movement has recruited followers among migrant workers and working classes in the capital, to the annoyance of business elites and urban middle classes and underlining the social divide that has caused some foreign businesses to reconsider long-term investment in the country.

Many analysts say the protests are fuelled by feelings of disenfranchisement, a widening gap between rich and poor and popular belief that unelected, powerful elites are colluding with the army or top judges to bring down governments elected by the majority, two of which were led or backed by Thaksin.

The protesters see the urbane, Oxford-educated Abhisit as a symbol of elite domination of Thai politics, accusing him of being a stooge for a powerful military who they claim masterminded his rise to power, sponsoring political defections to enable him to win a parliamentary vote in December 2008.

The "red shirts" have rejected Abhisit's offer to dissolve parliament within nine months -- a year ahead of schedule -- accusing him of lacking sincerity and clinging on to power without a public mandate.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Nisan 2010, 14:53

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