Thai protesters march on more government offices

Eight have been killed and 450 injured since protests began in November

Anti-government protesters were on the march again in the Thai capital today, targeting more government offices in a bid to keep up pressure on the prime minister to resign and call off next month's election.

The marches appeared to be a way to maintain momentum amid a decline in the number of protesters who have blocked key intersections in Bangkok for four days now in attempt to shut down the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Their numbers could swell again this weekend.

Ms Yingluck's opponents, mostly from the urban middle and upper class, claim she is carrying on the practices of her billionaire brother by using the family fortune and state funds to influence voters and cement its grip on power.

But she has widespread support among Thailand's poor majority in the countryside because of the populist policy carried out by her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile to avoid being imprisoned on a corruption conviction.

On Wednesday night, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban urged followers to march to offices of the Revenue Department, noting that other government agencies had already been forced by the protesters' sieges to move to temporary premises or allow employees to work at home.

The demonstrators also targeted the Public Health Ministry and Public Works Department. Another group led by a Buddhist monk claimed to be headed to the office of the Department of Special Investigation, Thailand's FBI.

The protests this week have been mostly peaceful, although there have been random acts of violence including gunshots in the middle of the night at protest venues.

Overnight, a small explosive device was hurled into the residence of protest leader Issara Somchai Issara, damaging part of a motorcycle in the garage, according to Police Col. Pong Sangmurin.

Since the latest wave protests started in November, eight people have been killed and more than 450 have been injured.

Despite pressure from the protesters, Yingluck said Wednesday that the Feb. 2 parliamentary election will go ahead. She had dissolved parliament and called the early vote to defuse tension that has been building over the past three months.

But her opponents don't want an election because they know that her rural supporters would almost certainly give her victory. Instead, they are calling for an unelected “people's council” to replace the government and amend laws to fight corruption in politics.

Ms Yingluck told reporters after a meeting with members of her Cabinet, registered candidates and a top electoral official that there was no legal way for the Election Commission to delay it.

“The rights of the people are important,” she said.

The protests are being led by Suthep Thaugsuban The protests are being led by Suthep Thaugsuban

She also had offered to meet with rivals on Wednesday to discuss an Election Commission proposal to delay the vote on 2 February. But protest leader Mr Suthep and the opposition Democrat Party refused to take part, saying reforms to get rid of corruption in politics must happen first.

While the road blockages created traffic disruptions, life continued normally in most of Bangkok, a bustling city of 12 million.

Thailand has been wracked by repeated bouts of unrest since the military ousted Thaksin in 2006 amid charges of corruption and alleged disrespect for the monarchy. The crisis boiled over again late last year after a failed ruling party bid to push through an amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin to return from exile.

The country's army chief has pointedly refused to rule out a military takeover - always a possibility in a country that has suffered 11 coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Howard Marks who has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer aged 69
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
Rowan Atkinson at the wheel of his McLaren F1 GTR sports car
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us