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NEWS UPDATES 20 March 2010

Red shirts launch ‘class’ war, move around Thai capital

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Protesters riding thousands of motorcycles and crammed into trucks and cars set off Saturday for a daylong caravan through the streets of the Thai capital, hoping to enlist residents in their "class war" against the government, reported the Associated Press.

They plan to follow up the march with a "blood painting" on Sunday, the latest shock tactic by the so-called "Red Shirts" in their peaceful, weeklong campaign to oust the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

City and police officials, fearing massive traffic jams, urged residents to use public transport and either stay at home or at their workplaces until the demonstration ends.

"Please come join us, whatever color you wear, to liberate Thailand from a class society," a protest leader, Jatuporn Prompan, said on Friday evening.

On Saturday, the procession was cheered from the sidewalks by many residents as it passed with red flags and ribbons fluttering and car horns honking. Some motorcyclists plastered their license plates with stickers reading "The Red Shirts love Bangkok people."

The caravan included rural pick-up trucks, taxis, mini-buses, luxury sedans and Bangkok's iconic, three-wheeled "tuk-tuks."

The protesters want Abhisit, who they accuse of taking power through illegitimate means, to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections - a demand he has repeatedly rejected. Abhisit has been sleeping and working from an army base for the past week to avoid demonstrators.

The protesters plan to loop their way for some 40 miles (70 kilometers) through Bangkok, setting off from their encampment in the historic center of the city and driving through the central business district, Chinatown and outlying residential areas.

The size of the protest peaked Sunday at some 100,000 demonstrators, but has decreased by about less than half since then.


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