- Title: THAILAND: Campaigners hold rally to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
- Date: 25th March 2006
- Summary: PROTESTERS PERFORMING MOCK FUNERAL / CARRYING COFFIN WITH PRIME MINISTER'S NAME WRITTEN ON THE SIDE
- Embargoed: 9th April 2006 13:00
- Location: Thailand
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVADLI1RAKXEAWSEJ3BAXCTC75LQ
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Campaigners trying to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra launched a last push on Saturday (March 25) to topple him before a snap election with a rally aimed at persuading Thailand's revered monarch to intervene.
The Bangkok rally, which organisers hoped would draw one million people, has began by some thousands and the number is building up as the tropical heat in Bangkok is descending toward the dusk.
The rally was billed as a "united call" on King Bhumibol Adulyadej to replace Thaksin, accused of corruption and abuse of power, before an April 2 election he called three years early in hopes of ending the crisis.
It kicked off three days of protests due to continue on Sunday (March 26) with a march through the main shopping district and culminating in a march to police headquarters on Monday (March 27) to demand criminal charges be brought against Thaksin.
The campaigners want the king to appoint a neutral government to carry out political reforms. The three main opposition parties are boycotting the election, saying they cannot be fair because Thaksin has taken over institutions meant to be neutral.
Leaders of the campaign has called Bangkok residents to join force to ask His Majesty to give us an impartial government. The call has been made from outside Thaksin office where they have been camped for two weeks.
On Saturday, many of those who joined them wore the royal colour of yellow and waved anti-Thaksin flags as police searched for weapons, a reflection of constant fears of violence since the six-month campaign against Thaksin intensified in January.
The campaign leaders promised there would be no trouble, but 5,000 police were due to be on the streets with more on standby.
However, polls suggest waning interest in Bangkok, where the anti-Thaksin campaign has been centred.
Police have said similar things before previous rallies -- the biggest of which drew 130,000 people -- but so far there has been no trouble in a country with a long and relatively recent history of military coups.
Thaksin, the only elected prime minister in Thai history to complete a full term, also said he did not think the king -- who has intervened publicly twice in his 60 year reign, but both times against military rulers -- would act.
The palace has let it be known the king is following events closely but it has shown no signs he is willing to act against Thaksin, the focus of metropolitan middle class anger since his family's tax-free $1.9 billion sale of its telecoms empire.
The January sale of Shin Corp, which Thaksin founded, to a Singapore state investment firm fuelled the campaign against him, but the latest poll showed Bangkok people were getting fed up with it.
Meanwhile, 30,000 monks were gathering not far away from the rally, to pray for unity among the Thais.
Crowd of saffron robes monks from Bangkok and nearby provinces are packed over "Sanam Luang" Royal Ground.
"We are here to show our concern of confrontation within our Thai people and to remind them that we are living together as a nation," said Prakru Pisarn Sasanakit from Central province of Suphanburi.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None