Thousands protest outside Thai parliament ahead of PM speech
Despite the change of guard in Thailand, Political crisis is far from over. Thousands of supporters of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra surrounded Thailand's Parliament on Monday, daring lawmakers to pass through their ranks to deliver a speech outlining the new government's key policies.
Thailand's anti-government Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) protesters on Sunday morning started to gather in front of the parliament, in an attempt to prevent the coalition government to delivery its policy statement on Monday.
Police said 9,000 red-shirted demonstrators loyal to former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in a 2006 coup, moved to parliament overnight after gathering on Sunday night at a city centre parade ground.
Protesters surrounded the entrances to parliament early on Monday and vowed to stay there until the resignation of Mr Abhisit, who won a parliamentary vote two weeks ago after a court dissolved the previous, pro-Thaksin government.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the government had no immediate plans to change the venue of the speech but would make a final decision on the situation soon.
'If the meeting cannot start in the morning, we'll move to this evening or tomorrow,' he told Thai television, adding that it was possible but unlikely it could be postponed into the new year.
Mr Nattawut Saikuar, a core organiser of the pro-Thaksin protests, said the demonstrators would not stop the prime minister or his cabinet from walking to parliament for the speech.
'We want to make it clear that we reject the prime minister's route to power,' he said.
'We will open one lane for the prime minister and cabinet members to walk into parliament. We will do nothing when they walk, apart from asking them to return our sovereign power,' Mr Nattawut added.
The protests have brought Thai politics full circle after a year of upheaval, with Thaksin loyalists using the same tactics that helped rival demonstrators to bring down a government led by the tycoon's allies.
Oxford-educated Abhisit, the head of the Democrat Party, won the parliamentary vote to become prime minister less than two weeks after a court dissolved the former ruling People Power Party that was loyal to Thaksin.