Anti-government protesters occupy Thai finance ministry
BANGKOK – Thousands of anti-government protesters broke barricades and police lines on Monday to get inside the premises of the Finance Ministry in the Thai capital and occupy it.
Following hours of a tense stand-off, the policemen who had stood guard at the gates of the finance ministry and an adjacent Budget Bureau retreated from the premises, giving way for the protesters to get inside and occupy it.
Former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban, who led the anti- government protesters from Rajdamnern Avenue to the ministry in Samsen area, said he might also have the demonstrators occupy the headquarters of all other ministries from Tuesday to paralyze the government headed by Yingluck Shinawatra.
He did not tell which ministry will be the next place to occupy as most of the headquarters of the government agencies are located in the heart of the capital.
The demonstrators not only intruded into the compounds of the Finance Ministry and the Budget Bureau, but also went inside the buildings and offices, prompting government personnel to leave the premises.
Suthep also told those working inside an adjacent headquarters of the Public Relations Department to give way for the protesters to get in and occupy it.
“The Budget Bureau and Finance Ministry must be shut down for the time being so that the taxpayer’s money will no longer be provided to the corrupt government,” said Suthep to the cheering crowd, many of who blew whistles.
Meanwhile, protesters led by the so-called Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand remained in tense stand-offs with policemen outside the headquarters of the Bangkok Metropolitan police and at intersections on Rajdamnern Avenue, which is less than half a kilometer from the Government House.
They were apparently trying to lay siege around the Government House, prompting prime minister Yingluck to change the venue for a cabinet meeting to the headquarters of the Commerce Ministry in Bangkok’s northwestern outskirts.
Anti-government rallies, which began last month, were triggered by a government-backed amnesty bill that could have led to the return of Yingluck’s brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The lady premier reassured that she would not either resign or dissolve the House of Representatives in the face of the street protests.