Anti-government protesters cancel Bangkok rally

Anti-government protesters cancel Bangkok rally Bangkok: Thai supporters of a deposed Prime Minister turned fugitive abruptly called off a mass rally today after the government said it would deploy some 5,500 soldiers and police to keep order.

Thaksin Shinawatra's supporters had planned to protest tomorrow outside Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's office to demand his resignation.

Abhisit had prepared for the rally by invoking the stringent Internal Security Act from Saturday through Tuesday.

The ISA allows the government to use the military to keep order in situations deemed harmful to national security.

Protest organisers criticised the government's response as too harsh.

"We have decided to postpone the rally until September 5 because the government imposed the Internal Security Act on us," said protest leader Nuttawut Sai-kua. "The fact that they are using security laws shows they are afraid of us."

Past rallies have turned violent. An April protest in downtown Bangkok turned into rioting that left two dead and more than 120 injured.

Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 coup, remains at the centre of a long political crisis in Thailand. The first elections following his ouster brought his allies back to power, but opponents eventually occupied Government House for three months and shut down the capital's airports for a week last year.

Bureau Report