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Protesters are trucked in to join the mass demonstration in Bangkok

Red Shirts Short on Numbers in Bangkok Rally

Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Latest on Bangkok protests

RED SHIRT protesters crowded the streets of Bangkok today with media reports estimating the total at 60,000 to 100,000, well down on predictions that 300,000 might pack the capital.

Three lines of police and troops protected the home of Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda, who appeared to have become the main target for the protest by supporters of disgraced former Prime Minister Thaiksin Shinawatra.

By mid-afternoon, numbers were still building, with more protesters arriving in the capital. But there had been no reports of violence.

Many of the protesters seemed content to be entertained by performers and speeches.

Although his car was damaged in an attack by protesters yesterday, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said that police and troops will show restraint in dealing with demonstrators.

In a series of speeches leading up to today's mass protest, former PM Thaksin inferred that Khun Prem had been one of those responsible for the military coup that brought his downfall in 2006.

Khun Thaksin, in voluntary exile and facing arrest and jail if he returns to Thailand, has turned up the level of rhetoric in televised speeches from locations outside Thailand.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Democrat Party formed a coalition government which took charge in December after an invasion of Bangkok's two major airports by yellow-shirted supporters.

That brought an end to the direct influence of Khun Thaksin. Khun Abhisit has so far resisted the temptation to test the breadth of his support in a national election.

The unsettled nature of Thai politics is being blamed for a substantial drop in tourist visits in 2008-2009, made even worse by the global economic downturn.

A summit meeting of the Asean Plus Six leaders is due to be held in Thailand this weekend amid concerns that violent behavior could bring more negative international media exposure.

Unless there is a dramatic increase in levels of support soon, Khun Thaksin would be unwise to start planning a triumphant return.

PM Skips Phuket Amid Tourist Alarm on Red Shirts
Photo Album A red shirt turnout in Bangkok threatens tourism's recovery as an Asean conference opens on Phuket, with a sideline meeting between the Deputy PM and Laguna protesters.
PM Skips Phuket Amid Tourist Alarm on Red Shirts

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