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Dr Weng and Thida Tojirakarn among reds at a Phuket restaurant

Phuket Red Shirt Turnout Strong as Election Looms

Thursday, March 3, 2011
A GATHERING of about 500 red shirts on Phuket today heard two key Pheu Thai spokespeople spell out the case for fighting a national election if one is called, as expected, before July.

Representatives from 14 southern provinces gathered at Kaen Eng Two restaurant at Chalong to listen to Dr Weng Tojirakarn and his wife Thida, along with other visitors from Bangkok.

It was one of the largest gatherings of red shirts ever seen on Phuket, where yellow shirts - in alliance with the Democrat Party - have traditionally commanded a strong majority.

Dr Weng was one of seven red shirts recently released from prison temporarily while facing terrorism charges. His wife is acting chair of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

The Phuket gathering heard that the red shirts will contest at least 10 electorates in the south, once an election is declared, and were well prepared to fight to win power throughout Thailand.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is expected to announce the date for an election shortly, confident that the Democrat Party and allies can retain power without the support of the yellow shirt Peoples' Alliance for Democracy, whose occupation of Suvarnabhumi Airport back in 2008 led to his elevation to power.

The PAD has since formed its own political party and condemned PM Abhisit's handling of the border temple dispute with Cambodia.

The southern reds talked from 9am to 4pm at today's seminar. Peaceful red demonstrations in Bangkok are planned for March 12 and March 19 as the anniversary of last year's bloody confrontation with troops looms.

Ninety-one people died in clashes, and Phuket and Thailand are still recovering from the tourism turn-off caused by extremely cautious travel alerts.

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