Thai protesters set another deadline for government push ahead of public holiday | News | DW | 07.12.2013
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Thai protesters set another deadline for government push ahead of public holiday

Protest organizers in Bangkok have said they plan to hold a rally on Monday in another 'final push' to topple premier Yingluck Shinawatra. The movement's leader has said he will surrender to authorities if unsuccessful.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has called on demonstrators to rally in Bangkok on Monday, one day before the country celebrates its national holiday, Constitution Day. It follows a temporary truce put in place after several days of street clashes between police and demonstrators, who are seeking to oust the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The unrest has left five people dead and more than 200 injured, but there have been several days of calm, in respect of the 86th birthday of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday.

Suthep's announcement is raising fears of possible violence.

"On Monday, December 9, this struggle needs to end," Suthep told a crowd of supporters at the Government Complex in the capital. He resigned as a senior member of the opposition Democrat party in order to lead the street protests. A Thai court has issued an arrest warrant against Suthep on sedition charges.

He has promised to give himself up if his campaign to unseat Yingluck's government and place Thailand under an unelected "People's Assembly" is unsuccessful. However this has been viewed with skepticism, as previous deadlines set by Suthep have passed and protests have continued.

Police have said the protests are losing momentum, and are confident there will no violent demonstrations on Monday. However thousands of officers will still be deployed in Bangkok in response.

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.

The crisis began on November 1, with Yingluck's ruling coalition trying to push through a bill in parliament that would have resulted in an amnesty for Thaksin, as well as others convicted in politically-related cases during 2004 and 2013. The bill was rejected by the country's Senate.

Thaksin has been living abroad since 2008, and faces a two-year jail sentence for abuse of power if he returns to Thailand.

jr/ccp (AFP, dpa, AP)