Thousands of protesters have marched on ministries in Thailand in an effort to hamper the government. The demonstrations are the latest public show of opposition to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Several thousand people gathered in and in front of six of Thailand's ministries on Wednesday. By the time the sun had set, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government maintained control of all ministries except the Finance Ministry, which had effectively been shut down by protesters. Thousands of people surrounded the country's Department of Special Investigation, an agency similar to the American FBI.
Wednesday's protests came a day after protesters occupied other ministries in the city as part of the ongoing movement against Yingluck and her brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Ongoing protest movement
The latest rallies were orchestrated by Suthep Thaugsuban, a former senior member of the opposition Democrat Party who resigned to lead the protests.
"We will stay overnight here. I urge all police to leave this compound," Suthep said outside of the Department of Special Investigation.
Demonstrations have been ongoing for weeks ever since Yingluck's Puea Thai government introduced a bill granting amnesty to her controversial brother, who is currently in self-imposed exile to avoid an abuse of power conviction. The bill was blocked by the Senate, but protesters have continued to take to the streets in an effort to bring down Yingluck's government.
"We must not regard this as a win-or-lose situation," Yingluck told reporters at parliament on Wednesday. "Today no one is winning or losing, only the country is hurting."
Despite being removed from office in a 2006 military coup, Thaksin maintains significant influence in Thailand. He is considered the de facto leader of the ruling Puea Thai party and continues to have support from rural and working class communities. His opponents, who include many of Thailand's wealthy and powerful, view him as corrupt and a threat to the monarchy.
The renewed protests have raised concerns about a repeat of the sort of violence that followed a military crackdown on pro-Thaksin demonstrations that killed around 90 people in 2010. Yingluck, whose government has boosted security forces in response to the renewed unrest, has vowed that the police will keep order.
"My government will not use force. This is not the 'Thaksin regime,' this is a democratically elected government," she said.
dr,mz/rc (dpa, Reuters, AFP)