Thai protesters swarm telecommunications agencies

Other News Materials 30 November 2013 12:48 (UTC +04:00)
Thousands of protesters occupied the compounds of Thailand's main state-run telecommunications enterprises Saturday in a bid to paralyze the government
Thai protesters swarm telecommunications agencies

Thousands of protesters occupied the compounds of Thailand's main state-run telecommunications enterprises Saturday in a bid to paralyze the government, dpa reported.

The demonstrators surrounded the Telephone Organization of Thailand and Communications Authority of Thailand, which handle domestic and international telecommunication services, respectively.

They did not immediately enter the buildings.

The two agencies are located in northern Bangkok area that is a hub for government ministries and agencies.

Minister of Information and Communication Technology Anudith Nakornthap said telecommunication services would not be interrupted if the offices were occupied because, "We have back-up system to provide service in case of emergency."

On Sunday, the protesters plan to occupy or surround 10 government installations including the offices of the Cabinet and ministries of interior, foreign affairs, commerce, education, finance and labour, said Ekkanat Phompan, spokesman of the Civil Movement for Democracy.

They would also target the government public relations department, the National Police headquarters and Dusit Zoo near the parliament building.

Ekkanat said their plan was to make it impossible for the government to function as of Monday, but government officials said the protests were not likely to stop public offices from operating.

"Our government continues to perform," said deputy prime minister Phongthep Thepkanjana. "We have some buildings we will protect, and we are certain we can protect these buildings."

He said the government would not use force against the protesters.

Senior Democrat Party official Suthep Thaungsuban resigned from parliament to lead the protests, including occupation of a government complex since Wednesday, hoping to paralyze the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Suthep vowed "uproot the Thaksin regime," a reference Thaksin Shinawatra, the premier's elder brother and de facto leader of her ruling Pheu Thai Party.

Thaksin has been living abroad since 2008 to avoid a two-year jail sentence for abuse of power. He was prime minister between 2001 to 2006 before being ousted by a coup.

Suthep called for a People's Assembly to push through political reforms, especially on electoral practices, before any new election.

Government sources said they think the protesters were trying to provoke another coup, although the military to date has shown no signs of supporting the protests.

"The only way that Suthep can accomplish what he wants is with some kind of a coup d'etat, something unconstitutional," said Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng.

The current constitution has no mechanism for setting up a People's Assembly, Chaturon said.

There have been 18 coups in Thailand over the past 80 years.

Bangkok has been rocked by protests since November 1, when the ruling coalition attempted to push through an amnesty that would have pardoned Thaksin and thousands of other politically related cases during 2004-13.

The amnesty bill was later rejected by the Senate.