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Red shirts vow to continue protests
Thai demonstrators say call for ruling party to be disbanded will not stop rallies.
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2010 15:40 GMT
The red shirts say their will continue with their rallies under their demands are met [Reuters]

Anti-government protesters in Thailand have repeated their calls for the government to quit and early elections called, despite an election commission call for the ruling party to be disbanded.

Leaders of the so-called red shirts said on Tuesday that the ruling, which found the Democrat Party guilty of misusing poll donations, was a ploy to buy more time for the under-fire government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the prime minister.

Weng Tojirakarn, a red shirt leader, said that the month-long protests in the capital, Bangkok, would continue unless Abhisit conceded.

"There's no other way. If Abhisit dissolves parliament at noon today, we'll have all gone home by three in the afternoon. Just say the word and this whole protest will end," he told The Associated Press news agency.

"Make no mistake about it - this is a long legal process. It can be a ploy for Abhisit to buy time."

The call to disband the party was initially expected to curb demonstrations by the thousands of red shirts gathered in Bangkok after protests on Saturday erupted into clashes that left at least 21 people dead.

More marches

But the protesters said they would stage further marches, with hundreds of motorcyclists to be sent around the city handing out leaflets and pictures from Saturday's clashes.

in depth

  Q&A: Thaksin and the red shirts
  Thailand: Warring colours
  Profile: Thaksin Shinawatra
  Blog: Thailand's darkest day
   
  VIDEOS
  Al Jazeera speaks to both sides of the conflict
  Thai protesters fight for a voice
  Violence flares in the Thai capital
 

Red shirts stage blood protest

 

Bloodshed clouds Thai new year

"We are also contemplating a march to the 11th Battalion to ask Abhisit and the army he is hiding behind for an answer," Nattawut Saikua, another red shirt leader, said, referring to the army barracks where Abhisit has largely been based since the protests began.

It could could take months for prosecutors and the constitutional court to act on the election commission's recommendation.

"The case will be forwarded to the state attorney, and then the state attorney decides whether to forward it to the constutional court," Panitan Wattanayagorn, a Thai government spokesman, told Al Jazeera.

"The Democrat Party should defend itself in the constitutional court as it has successfully a few months ago."

The case centres on an allegedly illegal multimillion-dollar donation to the party during the national election campaign in 2005, when Abhisit was its deputy leader.

If a court finds that the party acted illegally, the Democrats, the country's oldest party, could be disbanded and senior party members banned for politics for several years.

Abhisit under pressure

Abhisit is also under pressure from the military after General Anupong Paochinda, the army chief, said that it might be necessary to dissolve parliament to resolve the country's political crisis.


Businesses in the Thai capital are suffering because of the ongoing standoff

"If the issue cannot be resolved through political means, then parliament dissolution seems to be a reasonable step," he said a joint news conference with the deputy prime minister on Monday.

"I just want peace to prevail."

It was the first public comment on the deadlock by the head of the powerful army after security forces failed on Saturday to remove the red shirts from their base in central Bangkok.

"Pressure is mounting on Abhisit," Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley, reporting from Bangkok, said.
 
"He's trying to allay fears that the army would step into the political void. In the last 18 years, the military stepped in with 18 military coups - when there has been a political stalemate the army tends to step in."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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