Thaksin supporters call for 'historic rally' in Thailand

Leaders of Thailand's street protests called for a "historic rally" this weekend to paralyse Bangkok.

Thaksin supporters call for 'historic rally' in Thailand

Leaders of Thailand's street protests called on Monday for a "historic rally" this weekend to paralyse Bangkok, an apparent bid to energise their mostly rural supporters in the second week of a campaign to force elections.

Tens of thousands of protesters remained on the streets near Bangkok's tourist district in their trademark red shirts, calling for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament, after parading through the city on Saturday to drum up support.

"We want to win! We are calling for another mass rally to halt Bangkok and it will be a largest show of force and a historic rally," Jatuporn Prompan, one of the protest leaders, told supporters.

Relieved by the lack of violence and confident Thailand's 15-month-old, military-backed government will survive, investors pushed Thai stocks to a 20-month peak last week, drawn by cheap share prices and high dividend yields.

Stock prices eased on Monday as some cashed in their profits.

"Foreign funds have flowed in on the assumption there will be no major violence and Abhisit will stay in power," said Warut Siwasariyanon, head of research at Finansa Securities in Bangkok.

Protesters will gather at their main rally site on Saturday but leaders declined to say if they are planning a reprise of last Saturday's parade of 65,000 protesters in cars, trucks, taxies and motorbikes across the city.

Abhisit, governing with a parliamentary majority and backed by the powerful military and establishment elite, has repeatedly said he won't bow to the protesters' demands for early elections, which the opposition is well placed to win.

He insists the deep political divisions would undermine any chance of peaceful polls if an election were held now.

Internal security act 

Such concerns were raised by two attacks on Saturday night on what authorities said were symbolic targets -- one grenade landed near the Defence Ministry, wounding two people, while an explosive device was hurled at the headquarters of the National Anti-Corruption Commission in a province bordering Bangkok.

Neither attack has been linked to the "red shirts", but the government is taking no chances and is expected on Tuesday to extend the use of a tough security law that gives the armed forces broad powers to control the rally.

The Internal Security Act (ISA) allows the country's top security agency, the Internal Security Operations Command, to impose curfews, operate checkpoints and restrict the movement of demonstrators if protests turn violent.

"We will ask the cabinet to extend the use (of the ISA) for another week to prevent any potential trouble," Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said after a meeting with top security officials, adding that a threat of violence remains.

Protesters promised not to disrupt the cabinet meeting on Tuesday but will instead ride 2,000 motorcycles around Bangkok to give out leaflets, urging city residents to join their rally.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Mart 2010, 09:03
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