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March 27, 2009

Pro-Thaksin supporters stage anti-govt protest
Several thousand supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra rallied against the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Thursday and vowed to continue until the premier calls a snap election, reported Kyodo news agency.

The protesters surrounded the Government House compound to press the government to comply with their demands, which also include amending the Constitution and prosecution of leaders of last year's marathon anti-Thaksin protests that temporarily shut down Bangkok's two main airports.

Abhisit said he will not use an emergency decree to deal with the protesters, adding he believes the situation will not escalate. Around 9,000 soldiers and police were deployed at the Government House compound to prevent the protesters from entering.

One of the protest leaders, Nattawut Sai-kua, said they will continue the rally until the premier dissolves the lower house, while Thaksin vowed to address his supporters by phone at night. The protesters' demands also include the dismissal of Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya for having joined last year's massive protests.

Thaksin, now a fugitive from justice, was ousted by a military coup in 2006 and his party was dissolved by a court order in 2007 after being convicted of electoral fraud.

The People Power Party, consisting of politicians loyal to him, won the post-coup general election in late 2007 but it too was dissolved by a court order last December after one of its executives was convicted of vote-buying, after which Abhisit, leader of the Democrat Party, came to power.


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