Opposition "red shirts" try to win over Thai capital

Last Updated: Saturday, March 20, 2010 - 12:03

Bangkok: Thousands of opposition activists prepared to fan out across Thailand`s capital on Saturday in a bid to win the hearts of Bangkok`s middle classes and recruit them for their anti-government campaign.

The red-shirted supporters of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra were mobilising in convoys of motorcycles and pickup trucks to hand out leaflets and draw in Bangkok residents for their push for new elections.

The mass rally, which drew up to 150,000 people last Sunday, has so far been peaceful, boosting investor sentiment and helping to lift Thai stocks to a 20-month high.

Foreign investors have in the last month pumped 35.5 billion baht (USD 1.09 billion) into the bourse, one of Asia`s cheapest, much of that based on confidence that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva`s government will ride out the storm.

Although fatigue and the sizzling Bangkok sun has persuaded many protesters to return to their rural provinces, tens of thousands have remained in the capital for a rally leaders said would continue for at least another two weeks.

"We are asking Bangkok people to join our non-violent movement if they hate double standards and hypocrisy," Weng Tojirakarn, a protest leader, told the crowd on Friday.

The "red shirts" say big businessmen, royal advisers, army generals and court judges have colluded to undermine elected governments, and want people in the city of 15 million to join their rally and help return power to the people.

They say the Oxford-educated Abhisit, who enjoys the backing of an influential establishment elite and the politically potent military, is illegitimate and should step down.

The "red shirts" believe that by broadening their support base, the mostly grassroots movement stands a better chance of prolonging the rally and bringing down the government.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, March 20, 2010 - 12:03

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