Thailand's anti-government protestors dig in at Government House
Thailand's anti-government movement resolved Wednesday to remain at Government House, which they have occupied since August 26, despite threats that thousands of former policemen would cut food and water supplies to the compound, reported dpa.
The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) decided to dig in at at the seat of government, but would no longer hold rallies at Makawan Rangsak Bridge on Rajadamnoen Nok Avenue, said PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang.
The PAD, a loose coalition of conservative groups staunchly opposed to the return to power of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, has been staging street rallies against the current government since May.
On Tuesday the PAD claimed a victory when Thailand's Supreme Court for Political Office Holders sentenced Thaksin to two years in jail for abuse of power when he was prime minister in 2003, for allowing his wife to bid on a prime plot of Bangkok property in a public auction.
Although the verdict is expected to keep Thaksin, who is living in self-exile in London with his family, away from Thailand, the PAD has vowed to continue its struggle to bring down the current government, which is led by Thaksin's brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat, and to prevent it from pushing through constitutional amendments that might favour a Thaksin comeback.
"We haven't yet succeeded in achieving our goal, but we are notching up successes along the way," said Chamlong.
Meanwhile, former deputy police chief Salang Bunnag said he would give the PAD three days to clear out of Government House before he and other ex-policemen surround the compound and cut off food and water supplies.
Former police general Bunnag, notorious for leading an extra-judiciary slaying of nine suspected drug dealers more than decade ago, made his threats at a merit-making rally at the Royal Plaza, near Government House, that drew several thousand Buddhist monks. Bunnag emerged as a defender of the police force, and the government, following a crackdown on the PAD on October 7 in which two protestors were slain and more than 400 others injured, primarily with tear-gas canisters aimed directly at the crowds.
The police were severely criticized for the excessive use of violence against the PAD, a movement that enjoys the backing of powerful figures within the Bangkok political elite.
The PAD's main mission is to prevent a return to power of Thaksin, a former policeman and billionaire telecommunications tycoon who was prime minister between 2001-06.
Thaksin was overthrown by a coup in September 2006, on charges of corruption, dividing the nation and undermining democracy and the monarchy.
Despite living in exile, Thaksin is known to be the prime mover behind the People Power Party, which leads the current government and came to power in December general elections on an unabashedly pro-Thaksin platform.