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January 30, 2009

Thailand: Red-shirts plan ‘massive’ protests
Supporters of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra said Thursday they will adopt the tactics of their foes and hold a massive protest at Bangkok's main government offices this weekend.

An anti-government leader said they would on Saturday gather thousands of "Red Shirts" - so called because of their scarlet clothes - at a park before marching on Government House, the prime minister's main office.

"We expect up to 40,000 to 50,000 people. We will call the day 'Red in the Land'... we plan roughly to go to Government House at about 9:00pm to submit our demands," organiser Nattawut Saikuar told AFP.

"We have three demands - sack people who were related to the airport seizures... take serious legal action against them, and dissolve the house."

In August last year, thousands of anti-Thaksin protesters with the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) marched to Government House and occupied it for three months as their tried to topple the government elected in December 2007.

They said the ruling People Power Party (PPP) was running the country on behalf of Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. He remains enormously divisive, despite living in exile for most of the time since the putsch.

The PAD escalated their campaign and seized Bangkok's two airports from November 25 to December 3, and eventually got their wish when a court dissolved the PPP and forced then-premier Somchai Wongsawat from office.

The move paved the way for the Democrat Party's Abhisit Vejjajiva to be elected prime minister in a parliamentary vote last month, alienating many PPP supporters who felt robbed of their democratic rights.

Abhisit further stoked dissent by appointing vocal PAD supporter Kasit Piromya as foreign minister, while two other prominent protesters have been hired as government advisers.

Nattawut said they would decide on Saturday night whether to stay at Government House or move back to Sanam Luang park nearby.

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