Protesters have gathered at several ministries in Thailand in a bid to oust Yingluck Shinawatra's government. It's the largest ever challenge to the embattled prime minister, who faced a no confidence vote in parliament.
Around 1,000 protesters rallied in front of Thailand's Interior Ministry on Tuesday against Yingluck and her brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Opposition demonstrators also camped out overnight at the Finance and Foreign ministries, which were closed on Tuesday along with the Agriculture Ministry.
Tens of thousands of people have protested against what they call the "Thaksin regime," since the largest opposition rallies on Sunday. They accuse Yingluck of using her power to advance the interests of Thaksin, who was removed from office in a 2006 military coup, and his associates.
The latest protests are the biggest Thailand has seen since 2010, when 90 civilians were killed in a military crackdown, and have raised concern about potential violent clashes between pro and anti-government groups.
Police forces have boosted their numbers in response to the unrest, and the government late Monday passed the Internal Security Act, which gives authorities block routes, impose a curfew, ban gatherings and carry out searches. Despite the increased police presence, Yingluck has said security forces would "absolutely not use violence."
"Everybody must obey the law and not use mob rule to upstage the rule of law," she told reporters.
The opposition Democrat Party on Tuesday launched a no confidence vote in parliament against Yingluck, but it has no chance of removing her from office as her ruling Pheu Thai party holds a majority in the House of Representatives.
The recent protests in Thailand began after Pheu Thai plans to introduce a bill that would have granted amnesty to Thaksin, who has strong support from the country's rural and urban working class, but is deeply unpopular among the middle class and elite. The bill was shot down by the Senate earlier this month in the ensuing controversy.
Yingluck, 46, has remained adamant she will not step down. The large support from Thailand's rural north and northeast helped her become the country's first female prime minister in 2011.
dr/hc (AP, AFP, Reuters)