Thai protests paralyse more ministries
26 November 2013, 19:52
Bangkok - Thai
opposition protesters besieged several more ministries in Bangkok on Tuesday in
a bid to topple the government, as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra faced a
no-confidence motion in parliament and warned against "mob rule".
thousands of demonstrators have rallied against Yingluck and her brother,
ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, in the biggest street protests since 2010,
when more than 90 civilians were killed in a military crackdown.
turmoil in the politically turbulent country has sparked international concern
and raised fears of a new bout of street violence.
surrounded the interior, agriculture, transport, and sports and tourism
ministries, ordering officials inside to leave, a day after occupying the
finance and foreign ministries.
have to leave because they [the protesters] will cut the utilities,"
tourism and sports minister Somsak Pureesrisak told AFP.
protesters, waving Thai flags and blowing whistles, marched to the interior
ministry, which was heavily guarded by several hundred security personnel,
according to an AFP reporter at the scene.
gave officials an ultimatum to leave within one hour, threatening to
"close the ministry".
the interior ministry, most of the government buildings taken over had only a
light security presence outside.
But on the
streets more generally, police numbers have been increased in Bangkok in
response to the expansion late Monday of the Internal Security Act, which gives
authorities additional powers to block routes, impose a curfew, ban gatherings
and carry out searches.
Tuesday reiterated a vow that authorities would "absolutely not use
violence" as she arrived at parliament, which was guarded by dozens of
must obey the law and not use mob rule to upstage the rule of law," she told
debating the no-confidence motion, which was put forward by the opposition
Democrat Party last week as part of a barrage of legal and institutional
challenges to Yingluck's embattled government.
Puea Thai party holds a comfortable majority and is expected to win the censure
vote expected later in the week.
protests were sparked by Puea Thai plans to introduce an amnesty that could
have allowed the return from self-imposed exile of Thaksin, a deeply polarising
figure who was deposed by royalist generals in a 2006 coup.
that plan failed to ebb after the amnesty was quashed by the Senate on 11
protesters marched on more than a dozen state agencies across the capital, as
well as several television stations.
no immediate signs that authorities were moving to evict them Tuesday but
authorities said demonstrators appeared to be leaving the foreign ministry.
images showed protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who resigned from the Democrats
to lead the protest, at the finance ministry surrounded by supporters.
In a press
conference broadcast on the opposition's television channel, a rally spokesman
insisted protesters would wait until Wednesday before making a "big
occupying the finance ministry in a non-violent and peaceful way, so our
supporters around the country can do the same and occupy all government
offices," said Akanat Promphan, speaking on behalf of Suthep, who had lost
his voice after Monday's tub-thumping rally speeches.
United States and Britain have raised concerns over the street action.
are the biggest challenge yet for Yingluck, who swept to power in 2011 polls on
a wave of Thaksin support from the "Red Shirts", whose 2010 protests
were crushed by the then Democrat-led government.
Shirts were also angered by the amnesty proposal, believing it would have
pardoned those responsible for the 2010 crackdown, but they have since rallied
in support of the government, with thousands massing in a stadium in Bangkok.
is not trying to throw out the government... he wants to throw out democracy
and replace it with an ultra-royalist administration," Red Shirt leader
Thida Thavornseth told AFP.
draws strong support from many of the country's rural and urban working class.
But he is loathed by the elite and the middle classes, who accuse him of being
corrupt and a threat to the monarchy.
A series of
protests by the royalist "Yellow Shirts" helped to trigger the coup
that toppled Thaksin, who now lives abroad to avoid a prison term for
corruption that he contends was politically motivated.