Red Shirt Rally Tonight
Share this on

Red Shirt Rally Tonight

AFP:

More than 5,000 police are to be deployed on Bangkok’s streets on Saturday as Thailand braced itself for a fresh anti-government rally by supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
/>
/>
The group plans to gather in a park on Saturday evening before marching to Government House to make a series of demands, adopting the tactics of their foes, who occupied the main government offices for three months last year.
/>
/>
Lieutenant General Suchart Mueankaoe, commander of Bangkok Metropolitan police, told AFP 5,250 officers would police the event, with many more on standby along with military units.
/>
/>
Rally leader Nattawut Saikuar said he was not worried by the level of security.
/>
/>
“We are not worried over government threats to crack down on demonstrators as our rally is peaceful, unarmed and legal,” he told AFP.
/>
/>
The protesters — known as the “Red Shirts” because their crimson clothes show they oppose the yellow-clad, anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy — said up to 50,000 people could attend Saturday’s demonstration.
/>
/>
Hundreds of pro-Thaksin supporters had already begun arriving at Sanam Luang park in central Bangkok by Saturday morning, with the main throng expected from 4pm (0900GMT).
/>
/>
But police said they expected 20,000 people to present their three demands to government — for those involved in the siege of Bangkok’s airports in November to be fired from government jobs and then prosecuted, and for parliament to be dissolved.
/>
/>
Premier Abbhisit Vejjajiva sparked outrage on taking the top job in December by appointing PAD sympathiser Kasit Piromya to the post of foreign minister and two other PAD members to key advisory positions.
/>
/>
“Those people are considered conspirators in blockading the airports and we demand the authorities speed up the prosecution against them,” Nattawut said.
/>
/>
A huge stage was erected in preparation for the event on Saturday. Protest leaders are due to address the crowd with a series of speeches ahead of a march to Government House at 9pm (1400GMT).
/>
/>
But Nattawut said the group’s real figurehead, Thaksin Shinawatra, would not be phoning in from exile to address his supporters.
/>
/>
National police chief General Patcharawat Wongsuwan has promised not to obstruct the rally but vowed to arrest any protesters who violate the law.
/>
/>
Thousands of anti-Thaksin protesters marched to Government House in August last year and occupied it for three months as they tried to topple the government elected in December 2007.
/>
BP: A Pantip thread with plenty of photos from earlier is here – numbers seem higher than mainstream media expectations. We will have to wait and see what unfolds tonight.