Anti-government protesters amass in Thailand



About 50,000 anti-government demonstrators amassed Wednesday in the capital in a push to topple Thailand’s prime minister.

The “Red Shirt” protesters — named for the color of their shirts — had gathered outside Government House in Bangkok, according to the chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau. Demonstrations have intensified in recent weeks to destabilize the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The Red Shirt protesters have declared Wednesday their D-Day, claiming they will draw up to 300,000 people from the eastern and northern part of the country. Those regions are a stronghold of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to whom the Red Shirts owe their allegiance. Thaksin was deposed from power in a coup in 2006, but still wields considerable clout. A party loyal to him, the People Power Party, assumed office in 2007 elections. Those opposed to Thaksin took to the streets, dressed in yellow shirts and earning the moniker, the “Yellow Shirts.”

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They staged sit-ins for more than two months last year — occupying the headquarters of the government and blockading Bangkok’s major international airport. The demonstrations ended December 2 when a court ruled the People Power Party was guilty of electoral fraud. The move paved the way for Abhisit to assume the prime ministership. Now, the tables are turned — with Thaksin supporters demonstrating. They maintain Abhisit’s government was not democratically elected. They want him to leave office and schedule new elections.

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