Thai premier calls bluff of Thaksin's red-shirted army

Protesters plan to donate 20 teaspoons of blood each to throw at parliament

Thailand's Prime Minister has decided to call the bluff of tens of thousands of red-shirted protesters who have swamped the streets of Bangkok demanding the dissolution of parliament.

As the mass demonstration in Thailand's capital passed its third day, Abhisit Vejjajiva rejected the demonstrators' demands to dissolve the legislature by lunchtime and call new elections. The protesters have now called on supporters to each donate up to 20 teaspoons of blood, which they plan to splatter on the parliament building in a symbolic act of political theatre.

"Asking for the dissolution of parliament before noon in exchange for a halt to the demonstrations, we all agreed it can't be done," the Oxford-educated Prime Minister said on national television. "However, it doesn't mean the government coalition parties and I won't listen to their ideas."

Anywhere up to 100,000 protesters have descended on Bangkok in what they say is a battle for nothing less than Thailand's democracy. Many, though not all, are supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now living in exile after being ousted in a 2006 military coup that was supported by many conservatives and senior members of the business community.

The demonstrators say that when Mr Abhisit took office in late 2008 he did so having been appointed by the parliament rather being popularly elected. As a result, the demonstrators, calling themselves the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, say he has no popular mandate and it is only fair to call a fresh poll. Mr Abhisit spent much of yesterday holed up in a military bunker while up to 40,000 security personnel were on stand-by.

On Sunday night, Mr Thaksin, a former owner of Manchester City football club who now spends much of his time in Dubai, spoke with the growing crowds by means of a video link. Speaking from an undisclosed location, he urged the crowds to ensure their protest remained peaceful. So far that has been the case, though two soldiers were wounded when four grenades exploded inside an army headquarters ringed by the demonstrators. The authorities have not yet blamed the marchers for the incident.

"The people who caused the problems in the country these days are the ruling elites," said the former premier. "To solve problems related to democracy, equality and justice – the ruling elites won't be able to do that because they don't have the conscience. The people will have to do it."

Mr Thaksin draws particular support from the country's rural poor, whom he won over by a series of populist policies after he was first elected in 2001. Throughout his terms in office he was dogged by allegations of corruption, and since going into exile has been convicted in absentia of abusing his position to help a business owned by members of his extended family. Recently the country's Supreme Court ordered that $1.4bn (£930,000) of his assets be seized.

The current demonstration is just the latest turmoil to rock Thailand since Mr Thaksin's ouster in 2006, when he was out of the country. During a Red Shirts protest last April, two people were killed and 120 injured after buses were set alight in Bangkok.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power