Fresh skirmishes broke out on Monday between Thai security forces and opposition demonstrators who have issued an ultimatum for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to quit,a day after the anti-government campaign erupted into deadly violence.
Police used tear gas at the heavily guarded government headquarters,an AFP journalist at the scene saw,as protesters hurled sticks and other projectiles at security
forces manning barriers at the besieged complex.
Some schools and universities in the capital were closed for safety reasons,authorities said,after unrest yesterday rippled around the key government buildings in the capital that have been targeted.
The protests,aimed at unseating the elected government and replacing it with a “people’s council”,are the latest outbreak of civil strife to rock the kingdom since royalist generals ousted Thaksin Shinawatra,Yingluck’s brother,seven years ago.
The billionaire tycoon-turned-premier is hated by the elites,Bangkok’s middle class and southerners,who have massed in the capital in recent days vowing to rid the country of his influence.
But he is adored by many outside Bangkok,particularly in his stronghold in the nation’s north,and Yingluck’s party has a solid parliamentary majority.
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said late yesterday that he had met Yingluck in secret in the presence of army,navy and air force commanders,but insisted the talks were simply a means to issue his demand for the government to hand power “to
“There will be no bargaining and it must be finished in two days,” he said in a televised speech.
The month-long street rallies are the biggest since mass pro-Thaksin protests in Bangkok three years ago that left dozens dead and ended in a bloody military crackdown.
Police said an estimated 70,000 people joined the opposition demonstration yesterday.
While the protesters’ numbers have fallen since an estimated 180,000 people joined an opposition rally on November 24,they have besieged high-profile targets including ministries in what some observers believe is an attempt to provoke a military coup.
Police yesterday repeatedly fired tear gas and water cannon as a hard core of protesters tried for hours to breach barricades and cut barbed wire protecting Government House,which was guarded by security forces including unarmed
Suthep said the demonstrators would not be satisfied with new elections,raising fears of a deepening crisis that could scare off foreign tourists and international investment in one of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant economies.