Deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra spoke by telephone to tens of
thousands of supporters who filled a stadium in Thailand's capital,
He told his supporters, who were wearing red
shirts to signal their pro-government stance, that he could not return
to Thailand because he had been sentenced to prison in Thailand. But
he suggested a royal pardon could allow him to come home.
the first time Mr. Thaksin had spoken to supporters since he fled the
country in August amid corruption charges. He has since been sentenced
to two years in prison by a Thai court.
At least 2,000 police
and soldiers were mobilized to guard against violence at the rally amid
long-running political unrest in the capital.
opponents -- led by the Peoples Alliance for Democracy -- have
surrounded the prime minister's residence in Bangkok since August
demanding the government step down.
A court removed Samak
Sundaravej as prime minister in September. He was replaced by Somchai
Wongsawat, who is Mr. Thaksin's brother-in-law.
Mr. Somchai is
under increasing pressure to step down since a political protest turned
violent October seventh in which two people were killed and more than
400 were injured.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.