Thai protesters move camp to central Bangkok

Monday 03 February 2014 22.43
There is no sign of an end to the protests in Bangkok (Pic: EPA)
There is no sign of an end to the protests in Bangkok (Pic: EPA)

Thai anti-government protesters who have been camped out in north Bangkok packed their tents and marched downtown today as they consolidated efforts to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, a day after a disrupted general election.

Some joined protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on foot.

Others followed in cars and six-wheel trucks as Thailand's long-running political conflict showed no sign of ending.

They closed camps at two of the seven big intersections that they have blockaded since mid-January, at Victory Monument and Lat Phrao, and headed for the fringes of the central oasis of Lumpini Park.

A third camp run by an allied group at a big government administrative complex may also be closed.

Mr Suthep said yesterday this was being done out of safety concerns, but it could also be because their numbers are dwindling. Reuters put the number of marchers at about 3,000.

The demonstrators blocked balloting in a fifth of the country's constituencies yesterday, saying Ms Yingluck must resign and make way for an appointed "people's council" to overhaul a political system they say has been taken hostage by her billionaire brother and former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra.

The election, boycotted by the main opposition Democrat party, is almost certain to return Ms Yingluck to power and, with voting passing off peacefully across the north and northeast, Ms Yingluck's supporters will no doubt claim a legitimate mandate.

But there was no indication of when re-votes of Sunday's disrupted ballots will be held or when the Election Commission will be able to announce a result, which will be the object of legal challenges anyway, including from the leader of the Democrats, former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva.             

The result is unlikely to change the dysfunctional status quo in a country popular with tourists and investors yet blighted by eight years of polarisation and turmoil, pitting the Bangkok-based middle class and royalist establishment against the mostly poor, rural supporters of the Shinawatras.            

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