News / Asia

Anti-Government Protests Continue in Thailand

  • Thai anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban holds clenched fists during a march with his supporters in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 22, 2013. 
  • Thai anti-government protesters march cross Takin Bridge during a rally, Dec. 22, 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. 
  • Thai anti-government protesters march in the streets, Dec. 22, 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. 
  • Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Thailand's capital paralyzing traffic and facing off with police outside the prime minister's residence in their latest mass rally against Thailand's government, Dec. 22, 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • A Thai anti-government protester holds a banner as she joins a rally outside Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's residence, Dec. 22, 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, center, with his wife Srisakul Promphan, in white, arrives at the Democracy monument, in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 15, 2013. 
  • A protester with a Thai national flag walks past concrete barriers sprayed with "Failed Government" outside the fence around Government House, wrapped by a long banner in the colors of the national flag in Bangkok, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters remove barbed wire after briefly entering the compound of the prime minister's office, known as Government House, in Bangkok, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Police wear their riot gear inside Government House, as anti-government protesters gather behind its fence and gates in Bangkok, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • A group of Buddhist monks walk past a sleeping anti-government protester at a protest camp on a road near Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters sleep outside Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters carry a huge Thai national flag as they march in Bangkok, Dec. 9, 2013.
VOA News
Anti-government protesters in the Thai capital of Bangkok have wrapped Government House, where Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has her offices, in a massive banner bearing the colors of Thailand's flag.

As protesters continued to camp outside the compound Friday, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban told reporters that he would meet with military chiefs on Saturday to discuss his strategy for moving forward.

Yingluck has refused to meet the protesters' demands to step down and hand over power to an unelected council. But she has dissolved parliament and called for early elections in February.

Authorities on Friday formally charged former Thai Prime Minister and leader of the opposition Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva with the murder of two protesters during a military crackdown in 2010.

Prosecutors say Abhisit ordered security forces to shoot on a crowd of mostly unarmed Red Shirt protesters, 90 of whom died during the crackdown. Abhisit denies the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

Ex-deputy prime minister Suthep, who retired from the Democrat Party to lead the protests, is also facing charges related to the crackdown.

Yingluck's Pheu Thai party is expected to easily win the February vote, thanks in part to the popularity of her brother, who still has a large degree of influence on the current government.

The demonstrations were triggered several weeks ago by an amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin to return home from exile and avoid a two-year jail term for corruption. The Senate rejected the bill but protests have continued.

Thailand has experienced regular political turmoil in recent years. The conflict pits Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and Thaksin.

Some analysts fear Abhisit's trial, which is expected to start in March, could further enflame the anti-government protests, in which five people have already died.

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