Thai protesters mark Monday for final push against government
Anti-government protesters took a break from weeks of demonstrations on Saturday to prepare for a final push to topple the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban set Monday as the day for the final battle in their campaign to oust the Premier and end the political influence of her elder brother, fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
“On Monday, December 9, this struggle needs to end,” Mr. Suthep told a crowd of supporters at the Government Complex in northern Bangkok, which they have occupied since November 27.
Mr. Suthep urged Thais to join a final march on the Government House, the seat of the administration. He also called on civil servants to strike on Monday.
“We’re sending a message to the people that they have a constitutional right to participate in the protests, but if they violate any laws we will be issuing warrants for arrests,” said police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kissana Phatsanacharoen.
The protests have already claimed four lives and injured more than 265 people.
Mr. Suthep, a senior member of the opposition Democrat Party who resigned from Parliament to lead the street protest, faces an arrest warrant on sedition charges.
He vowed to give himself up if the demonstration failed to bring down the government on Monday, although some observers were skeptical.
“There have already been a lot of last times set by Suthep,” Mr. Kissana said. “I think he will only lead the march if a lot of people show up.”
Tuesday is a public holiday for Constitution Day, a symbolic date not lost on Mr. Suthep. But it also means that many Bangkok residents are taking off on Monday as well, observers said.
On Saturday, two other anti-government groups await the Monday march, The Nation online reported.
The Bangkok protests have been going on since November 1, when the lower house of Parliament pushed through an amnesty that would have pardoned Mr. Thaksin from a two-year prison sentence for abuse of power.
Although the bill was later rejected by the Senate, Mr. Suthep has led a campaign to paralyse the government since November 24.
He claims Ms. Yingluck’s government lost all legitimacy when her party openly rejected a ruling by the Constitutional Court on November 20 that overturned a charter amendment.
Mr. Suthep said he wants an appointed Prime Minister and a “People’s Assembly” to reform the political system.