Bangkok: Anti-government demonstrators in Thailand on Monday stormed the finance ministry compound and warned of seizing other government buildings, dramatically escalating their protests aimed at toppling beleaguered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Rival rallies have been staged here with tens of thousands of pro and anti-government protesters flooding the streets in the most serious confrontation in Thailand since the 2010 bloody protests in which over 90 people were killed.
Anti-government protesters want Yingluck to step down amid claims that her government was remote-controlled by her older brother, ousted former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin has lived in a self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid jail on a corruption conviction.
Protesters entered the finance ministry compound, even as they were asked by their leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former opposition MP, not to damage anything.
"Tomorrow we will seize all ministries to show to the Thaksin system that they have no legitimacy to run the country," Suthep said, addressing the crowd.
Earlier, protesters chanting "Thaksin get out, army come in", called for the intervention of the military in a country that has seen 18 actual or attempted coups since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.
Thailand`s Opposition Democrat party leader and former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva today urged Prime Minister Yingluck and the ruling Pheu Thai Party to take responsibility for the ongoing protests.
He said the large number of people gathering was a significant expression of Thai society who want to see a change.
"It`s a pity that we do not see how the PM and the government will respond to the call. They just repeatedly say `please sit and talk`," Abhisit said.
He said the march across Bangkok by the anti-government protesters would not affect the no-confidence debate scheduled for tomorrow and Wednesday.
The opposition party, which has prepared more than 20 MPs for the debate, is ready to expose the government`s corruption scandals, Abhisit said.
The opposition has submitted no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Yingluck and Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan.
Meanwhile, as pro and anti-government protesters from the provinces came to Bangkok, Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said all party MPs would convene today to prepare for the no-confidence debate.
He declared that the government had no intention of calling for a House dissolution.
Prompong said that former Democrat Suthep could lead supporters to Parliament and to Government House tomorrow, in an attempt to block the no-confidence vote to create a political deadlock.