Red Shirts - supporters of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra - have demonstrated in front of Thailand's parliament, demanding the removal of a number of judges from the Constitutional Court.
Around 3,000 supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, also known as the "Red Shirts" gathered outside the Thai parliament on Thursday and submitted a petition signed by 20,000 people calling for the impeachment of eight judges for alleged interference in the legislature's work.
The protest comes as a reaction to last week's court decision, which ordered the legislative to halt its ongoing debate on constitutional amendments, thus indirectly preventing the parliament from setting up a committee to draft a new charter.
The government, which came to power 11 months ago and is headed by Yingluck Shinawatra, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's sister, had been working on altering the constitution and declaring a general amnesty for political offences. The change would have greatly benefitted Thaksin, who is in self-imposed exile - prompting anti-Thaksin "Yellow Shirts" to threaten to break an uneasy truce. The Yellow Shirts also believe that the constitution may be changed in a way to pose a threat to the revered monarchy.
The Constitutional Court "overstepped its authority" in sending an order to parliament, the Red Shirt leaders argue, equating the court's move with a "judicial coup." They are further suspicious of the fact that the court's ruling coincided with a revival of the Yellow Shirts, some 3,500 of whom shut down the parliament last Friday, the day of the court's decision. Two days earlier, there had been an open brawl between the rival factions in parliament.
The confrontation is slowly but surely reaching a stage where there are genuine fears that a pro-Thaksin government may be toppled for a third time in six years, the first two times being 2006 and 2008. The Yellow Shirt movement and their mass protests had played a key role on both those occasions.
Author: Arun Chowdhury (Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Sarah Berning