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Riot police in place to confront Thai protesters

 A blind beggar sings Monday, April 5, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand, as anti-government demonstrators gather on Silom Road in the downtown business dist...
 A group of activists hang a banner, which reads: Be patience, no violence, on an over fly for pedestrians during a rally calling the government and p...
 An anti-government demonstrator dances and sings songs along Silom Road in the downtown business district  in Bangkok, Thailand  Monday, April 5, 201...
 Supporters cheer as anti-government demonstrators gather on Silom Road in the downtown business district Monday, April 5, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand....
 Anti-government demonstrators protest outside a building where the Election Commission office is situated in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday April 5. 2010....
 Anti-government demonstrators are cheered by supporters  Monday, April 5, 2010, along Silom Road in the downtown business district in Bangkok, Thaila...
 A Thai soldier watches from an over fly at a group of activists staging a rally urging the government and protesters to end the ongoing political cri...
 Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra celebrate after pushing their way inside a building where the Election Commissi...
 Anti-government demonstrators protest outside a building where the Election Commission office is situated in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday April 5. 2010....
 Anti-government demonstrators swarm to the entrance to a building where the Election Commission office is situated in Bangkok, Monday April, 5. 2010....
 Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra celebrate after pushing their way inside the building where the Election Commis...
 About 100 anti-government demonstrators rush towrds the Election Commission office in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday, April 5, 2010. The protestors pus...
 Anti-government protesters push back the shields of riot policemen during a demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, April 6, 2010. Riot police m...

Thailand Politics

A blind beggar sings Monday, April 5, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand, as anti-government demonstrators gather on Silom Road in the downtown business dist...

Thailand Politics

A group of activists hang a banner, which reads: Be patience, no violence, on an over fly for pedestrians during a rally calling the government and p...

Thailand Politics

An anti-government demonstrator dances and sings songs along Silom Road in the downtown business district in Bangkok, Thailand Monday, April 5, 201...

Thailand Politics

Supporters cheer as anti-government demonstrators gather on Silom Road in the downtown business district Monday, April 5, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand....

APTOPIX Thailand Politics

Anti-government demonstrators protest outside a building where the Election Commission office is situated in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday April 5. 2010....

Thailand Politics

Anti-government demonstrators are cheered by supporters Monday, April 5, 2010, along Silom Road in the downtown business district in Bangkok, Thaila...

Thailand Politics

A Thai soldier watches from an over fly at a group of activists staging a rally urging the government and protesters to end the ongoing political cri...

APTOPIX Thailand Politics

Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra celebrate after pushing their way inside a building where the Election Commissi...

Thailand Politics

Anti-government demonstrators protest outside a building where the Election Commission office is situated in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday April 5. 2010....

APTOPIX Thailand Politics

Anti-government demonstrators swarm to the entrance to a building where the Election Commission office is situated in Bangkok, Monday April, 5. 2010....

APTOPIX Thailand Politics

Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra celebrate after pushing their way inside the building where the Election Commis...

APTOPIX Thailand Politics

About 100 anti-government demonstrators rush towrds the Election Commission office in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday, April 5, 2010. The protestors pus...

Thailand Politics

Anti-government protesters push back the shields of riot policemen during a demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, April 6, 2010. Riot police m...

Riot police moved into place around the Thai capital's commercial district Tuesday to prevent thousands of anti-government demonstrators from staging convoys through 11 main roads that authorities have declared off-limits.
Protest leaders have vowed to defy a government order to vacate the commercial heart of Bangkok and not to enter the main thoroughfares as they try to pressure Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to relinquish power.
"We will teach the government a lesson _ that every road belongs to the people," said one of the protest leaders, Nattawut Saikua.
Meanwhile, business leaders have called for an end to the crisis, predicting even greater shocks to the economy and tourism if it persists.
More than a dozen shopping malls were set to close their doors for the fourth day in Bangkok's luxury shopping district, which includes five-star hotels like the Four Seasons, the Hyatt and InterContinental. Guests at the hotels there were checking out in greater numbers.
"The protests have hit thousands of entrepreneurs as well as their staff and employees because (the area) is a prime shopping and tourist location," said a joint statement by three leading business associations in the district, which estimated losses in the area since the occupation began at up to 900 million baht ($28 million).
The "Red Shirt" protesters, mostly farmers from impoverished provincial areas who have characterized their movement as a class war against the Bangkok elite, have sworn not to let up their pressure until Abhisit steps down and calls new elections. Abhisit has offered to call elections by the year's end, but the protesters want quicker action.
The movement _ known formally as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship _ contends that Abhisit came to power illegitimately in the years after ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was removed in a 2006 coup on corruption allegations. The group is made up largely of Thaksin supporters and pro-democracy activists who opposed the putsch.
On Monday, some protesters pushed their way into the Election Commission, in anger that the body has yet to decide whether the ruling Democrat Party violated laws on financial donations, which could lead to the party's dissolution. No violence was reported and all protesters _ inside and outside the building _ left the area after the Election Commission agreed to rule on the allegation on April 20 rather than the scheduled April 30.
Government opponents charged last year that the party received a 258 million baht ($8 million) donation from a Thai conglomerate _ well beyond the limit set for individuals or companies.
Late Monday, a Civil Court rejected an injunction sought by the government to order protesters out of the shopping district. The court ruled the government needs only the special security law it has already invoked to ask the protesters to leave. But demonstrators have ignored orders to disperse.
So far, the government has refrained from using force against them despite pressure from segments of the Bangkok population fed up by business losses and disruption to daily life.
Allies of Thaksin _ whose policies of cheap health care and low-interest village loans benefited the rural poor from which many of the protesters are drawn _ won the first elections after the coup 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 protests by Thaksin's opponents.
Thaksin, a multimillionaire convicted in absentia on corruption-related charges, is a fugitive abroad and encourages the Red Shirts with frequent messages. His six years in office were riddled by accusations of nepotism and an erosion of democratic institutions.


Updated : 2021-02-26 09:53 GMT+08:00