Defiant Thai protesters today stormed the army headquarters,asking the military to back their six-day-old campaign aimed at toppling Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra even as she ruled out early elections.
Over 1,500 protesters entered the compound and submitted a letter addressed to the army chief,asking military leaders to “take a stand” in Thailand’s spiralling political crisis.
More protesters besieged the ruling Pheu Thai party’s headquarters as part of efforts to force Yingluck to step down,shouting “Get out,get out”.
The demonstrators left both the places after a few hours.
Security was tightened around the party’s headquarters. Ruling out a fresh poll,Yingluck told BBC she was not sure the protesters would be satisfied even if she called an election.
“I love this country. I devote myself to this country. I need only one thing for the country: we need to protect democracy,” she said.
She said the situation in Thailand was “very sensitive” and repeated her call for negotiations to resolve the crisis. For the past week,thousands of anti-government protesters have marched in Bangkok in a bid to unseat Yingluck,whom they accuse of serving as a proxy for her fugitive brother and former premier Thaksin Shinwatra.
The demonstrations have raised fears of fresh political turmoil and instability in Thailand and pose the biggest threat to Yingluck’s regime since she came to power in 2011. Amid the growing unrest,Yingluck said she would not authorise the use of force against protesters occupying government buildings.
Meanwhile,former premier and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he would lead the protesters if rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban is arrested.
He said Thaugsuban has raised public awareness about doing the right thing for Thailand and this wouldn’t change even if he was no longer able to lead the protests.
Attorney General Atthapol Yaisawang has appointed a committee to consider a petition seeking an order from the Constitutional Court to stop the ongoing protests. The petition alleged that the protests violated the Constitution. Yesterday,Yingluck asked demonstrators to end the street protests after surviving a no-confidence vote in Parliament. The no-confidence motion was filed by the opposition,which alleged widespread corruption in the government. In a
televised address,Yingluck said the protesters should negotiate with the government. But protest leader Thaugsuban rejected her appeal. Demonstrators have been surrounding and briefly occupying official buildings in an attempt to disrupt the government.
On Monday,protesters in Bangkok stormed the Finance Ministry and converted it into a “command center”. An estimated 100,000 opposition supporters protested in the capital on Sunday,though the numbers appear to have dropped significantly during the week.
The current round of protests started as a response to a government-backed amnesty bill that could have opened the door for Thaksin’s return to Thailand from self-exile. The Thai senate rejected the bill on November 11,but opposition demonstrators have called since then for Yingluck’s government to be replaced.
The country is facing its largest protests since 2010,when thousands of “red shirt” Thaksin supporters occupied key parts of Bangkok. More than 90 people,mostly civilian protesters,died during the two-month sit-in. PTI