Thai protesters circle Parliament, challenge Premier
Thailand's new government may postpone the prime minister's inaugural parliamentary address after thousands of protesters blocked entrances to the building, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said, Bloomberg reported.
The red-shirted protesters are demanding Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and lawmakers attend the session on foot, Suthep said in a phone interview. The demand is a risk to legislators' safety, he said.
The protesters, loyal to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have called the blockade to try to force Abhisit to call a snap election, extending months of political turmoil that have slowed economic growth. Abhisit, 44, became Thailand's fourth leader since January after the former ruling pro-Thaksin People Power Party was disbanded earlier this month.
"We are protesting peacefully," Nattawut Saikuar, a rally organizer and PPP member, said by phone. "When Abhisit walks past, we will ask him to give back power."
Thousands of police are stationed inside parliament to protect lawmakers, said Pongsan Iam-on, Bangkok's deputy metropolitan police chief. There was no plan to use force to disperse the crowds, he said.
The prime minister is required under the constitution to present the inaugural address after taking office. Abhisit's presentation to both the Senate and the House of Representatives had been scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. local time.