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Bangkok protesters march on telecom firms, vow 'victory day' against Thai PM

Opposition protesters in Thailand have marched on key telecom firms as they try to shore up dwindling support in their campaign against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. They have declared Sunday a "day of victory."

Around 2,000 demonstrators rallied on Saturday at the offices of the state-owned Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT) and the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), placing padlocks on the doors to block workers from entering.

This comes a day after hundreds forced their way into the army headquarters in central Bangkok, urging military leaders to declare whether they support or oppose prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The army has said it will stay neutral during the ongoing dispute. There was no special police presence outside any government offices on Saturday.

The opposition campaign centers around the political influence that protesters say is still wielded by Yingluck's brother, the billionaire exiled former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown by the military in 2006. Yingluck has been accused of acting as Thaksin's puppet, and abusing her party's parliamentary majority to push through laws that help her brother.

Over the past week, the demonstrators have occupied government buildings, including the Finance Ministry, and camped out at several others, including a government office complex. On Thursday, Yingluck Shinawatra easily survived a no-confidence motion in parliament, receiving 297 votes of support and 134 against. She later used a televised address to plead with the protesters to end their campaign to avoid further damage to Thailand's economy.

'We need to break the law a little bit'

But with a sharp drop in support since last weekend, when 180,000 people took to the streets of Bangkok, the demonstrators have tried to reverse the falling momentum by declaring that Sunday will be their "victory day," even if breaking the law is required.

"On Sunday, brothers and sisters, we will announce our victory and defeat of the Thaksin regime," protest leader and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban told a rally late on Friday.

Suthep called on supporters to surround police headquarters, Government House and even a zoo. "We need to break the law a little bit to achieve our goals," he told the crowd.

"Tomorrow is the day we will declare victory," said Akanad Promphan, a spokesman for the protest movement. "We might have to break the law, but we will accept the consequences and punishment.

A rally planned for later on Saturday by supporters of Thaksin is expected to further raise tensions. Busloads of supporters from the countryside were making their way to Bangkok for the event being held inside a stadium.

jr/tj (AP, AFP, Reuters)