Massive Anti-Government Protest Kicks off in Bangkok
An estimated 100,000 red shirted supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have descended on the Thai capital of Bangkok to press Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down and call fresh elections.
Some 40,000 soldiers and police are guarding the streets in Bangkok as anti-government protesters wearing red shirts and waving plastic hand clappers converged to register support for Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 military coup.
Media reports say the number of protesters present in Bangkok is close to 100,000 with many gathered in central Bangkok to hear opposition leaders list their demands, signaling the official beginning of the protest.
Though, organisers have promised a peaceful demonstration, but protest leaders told correspondents that the campaign could be stepped up.
Led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the protesters allege that Prime Minister Vejjajiva had come to power illegitimately.
Two people had died and dozens others were injured in a similar protest in April 2009.
Thaksin currently lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai after receiving a two-year sentence in his absence for abuse of power.