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Former Thai PM Thaksin Demands Army Avoid Politics


Thousands of supporters of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra filled a Bangkok stadium Saturday to watch a pre-recorded speech in which he demanded the military stay out of politics.

At least 30,000 people watched the speech Mr. Thaksin recorded in exile - 10 days after his allies in government were forced out by a court ruling that disbanded their coalition parties.

A live speech by telephone was canceled at the last minute. No reasons were immediately given by Thaksin supporters.

Mr. Thaksin accused the military of interfering in Thailand's politics and demanded they stop.

Earlier in the day, students clashed with the former prime minister's supporters outside the stadium. Thai media report police arrived after the students fired guns and threw firecrackers. There were no reports of injuries or arrests.

The army ousted Mr. Thaksin in a 2006 bloodless coup, after he was accused of corruption and abuse of power.

Parliament convenes Monday to elect a new prime minister from one of two coalitions.

Somchai Wongsawat, the previous prime minister and Mr. Thaksin's brother-in-law, was forced to step down after a court found his People's Power Party guilty of election fraud and ordered it and two other coalition parties to disband. The party has regrouped as the Phuea Thai (For Thais) Party.

The opposition Democrat Party says it has enlisted enough lawmakers from other parties to form a parliamentary majority and carry Monday's election.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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