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Thai protesters occupy capital's commercial center

 Thai anti-government demonstrators protest pack the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. The United Front for Democracy Ag...
 The skytrain is passing by the central of Bussiness area where Thai anti-government demonstrators block the road in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Apri...
 Thai anti-government demonstrators take to the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. Thousands of anti-government protester...
 Thai anti-government demonstrators take to the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. The United Front for Democracy Against...
 Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra cheer to a speech of their leader during an anti-government demonstration outsi...
 Thai anti-government demonstrators take a rest under an advertisement board after closing the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April ...
 Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra take up a street on their motorcycles during an anti-government demonstration i...
 A couple of anti-government demonstrators takes a rest in front of an advertisement board after closing the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Sa...
 Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra cheer to a speech of their leader during an anti-government demonstration outsi...
 A young boy watches from an overfly as protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra take up a street on their motorcycles du...
 Thai anti-government demonstrators take to the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. Thousands of anti-government protester...
 A supporter of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wears a mask as he waves a clapping tool during an anti-government demonstration in Bangkok, ...
 Thai anti-government demonstrators take to the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. The United Front for Democracy Against...
 Thai anti-government demonstrators gather Saturday, April 3, 2010, in downtown Bangkok, Thailand, stand atop a crashed sports car following a hit and...

Thailand Politics

Thai anti-government demonstrators protest pack the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. The United Front for Democracy Ag...

Thailand Politics

The skytrain is passing by the central of Bussiness area where Thai anti-government demonstrators block the road in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Apri...

Thailand Politics

Thai anti-government demonstrators take to the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. Thousands of anti-government protester...

Thailand Politics

Thai anti-government demonstrators take to the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. The United Front for Democracy Against...

Thailand Politics

Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra cheer to a speech of their leader during an anti-government demonstration outsi...

Thailand Politics

Thai anti-government demonstrators take a rest under an advertisement board after closing the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April ...

Thailand Politics

Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra take up a street on their motorcycles during an anti-government demonstration i...

Thailand Politics

A couple of anti-government demonstrators takes a rest in front of an advertisement board after closing the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Sa...

Thailand Politics

Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra cheer to a speech of their leader during an anti-government demonstration outsi...

Thailand Politics

A young boy watches from an overfly as protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra take up a street on their motorcycles du...

Thailand Politics

Thai anti-government demonstrators take to the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. Thousands of anti-government protester...

APTOPIX Thailand Politics

A supporter of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wears a mask as he waves a clapping tool during an anti-government demonstration in Bangkok, ...

Thailand Politics

Thai anti-government demonstrators take to the streets of downtown Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010. The United Front for Democracy Against...

Thailand Politics

Thai anti-government demonstrators gather Saturday, April 3, 2010, in downtown Bangkok, Thailand, stand atop a crashed sports car following a hit and...

Thousands of anti-government protesters, ignoring a government deadline, occupied the commercial heart of Thailand's capital for a second day Sunday, vowing to hang on until new elections are called.
Many of the mainly poor, rural protesters known as the Red Shirts slept the night on pavement. Area office buildings and more than a half-dozen shopping malls, normally packed with weekend shoppers, closed for security reasons Saturday, and whether they would open Sunday wasn't immediately known.
The government first ordered out the protesters before the day ended Saturday but later said negotiations would continue.
The Red Shirts' fourth weekend demonstration in Bangkok targeted the district of upscale hotels and glitzy shopping malls as they grope for tactics to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to meet their demands, after failing to oust his government through peaceful mass marches and negotiations.
About 10,000 protesters gathered in the area Saturday, according to Metropolitan Police spokesman Piya Utayo. He said the total number of demonstrators, including those elsewhere in the city and on the move, reached nearly 55,000.
By Sunday morning, the numbers had dropped considerably. Mobile toilets, food and water were brought in, some of it from Bangkok's historic quarter where the protesters have camped since March 12.
The government first gave the protesters until 9 p.m. (1400 GMT; 10 a.m. EDT) to disperse and sent senior police officers to negotiate. The talks broke down after the Red Shirts refused to leave, and police Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, who headed the negotiating team, said they would resume Sunday.
"Today's another day when commoners will declare war to bring democracy to the country. There is no end until we win this battle," another leader, Jatuporn Prompan, said as protesters beat drums and chanted "Dissolve Parliament."
The Red Shirt movement _ known formally as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship _ consists largely of supporters of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and pro-democracy activists who opposed a 2006 military coup that ousted him.
In a video phone-in Saturday night, Thaksin repeated his calls for the protesters to stay the course.
"Fight and be tired for a few more days. This is better than being tired for the rest of your lives due to injustice," he said. "I ask that those of you working the next few days to please take days off and join us here. Please be patient. Victory is just around the corner."
Protest leaders have portrayed the demonstrations as a struggle between Thailand's impoverished, mainly rural masses _ who benefited from Thaksin policies of cheap health care and low-interest village loans _ and a Bangkok-based elite impervious to their plight.
Thaksin's allies won elections in December 2007, but two resulting governments were forced out by court rulings. A parliamentary vote brought Abhisit's party to power in December 2008. The Red Shirts say his rule is undemocratic and that only new elections can restore integrity to Thai democracy.
Abhisit must call new elections by the end of 2011, and many believe Thaksin's allies are likely to win _ which could spark new protests by Thaksin's opponents.
Residents of the sprawling Thai capital are divided in their view of the Red Shirts, with some merely fed up with the loss of business and traffic jams.
The protesters, whose numbers have peaked at about 100,000, have received support from lower-middle-class residents, many of them migrants from rural areas, but are detested by many in professional, business and senior government ranks.
While some in the middle and upper classes have expressed sympathy for the Red Shirts' demands for a better economic deal and an end to inequalities in Thai society, they don't support the movement outright because Thaksin is its shadow leader.
Thaksin, a multimillionaire convicted of corruption and abuse of power, is a fugitive abroad but encourages the Red Shirts with frequent messages. His six years in office were riddled by nepotism and an erosion of democratic institutions.


Updated : 2021-06-21 05:09 GMT+08:00