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Red shirts unite at Bangkok site
Anti-government group moves all protesters to business district and refuses more talks.
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2010 10:55 GMT
The red shirts say they are preparing for a 'final round' of protests against the government [Reuters]

Leaders of anti-government protesters in Thailand have decided to gather all their supporters in Bangkok's business district in a "final" attempt to topple Abhisit Vejjajiva, the prime minister.

The so-called red shirts decided to move thousands of demonstrators from a camp in the capital's old city, the scene of bloody clashes with security forces last week, and ruled out any further talks with the government.

"We will use the Rachaprasong areas as the final battleground to oust the government," Nattawut Saikuar, one of the red shirt leaders, told reporters on Wednesday.

"There will be no more negotiations, no more talks."

The business district and the presence of families,tourists and expatriates there, would make it difficult for security forces to move against the protesters.

"We believe the government will try to disperse us again in the next couple of days," Nattawut said.

"We're organising our movement to fight. We hope it will be the final round between us and this government."

Vulnerable locations

Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley, reporting from Bangkok, said: "Before this [the protesters] had been dispersed in three locations in the city and two of them were quite vulnerable in case the army decided to have a crackdown.

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

"They are not at the moment, the army is still in the barracks, but if they were to those areas could be taken quite quickly.

"The commerical centre is much more difficult, there are much more compact streets, more places to hide and more places where barricades could hold up the military."

The rally in the commercial district has already blocked roads and caused shops to close their stores.

"They are holding the economy as their hostage," Boonyakiat Karavekphan, a political scientist at Ramkhamhaeng University, said.

The death toll from the violence in Bangkok's historic quarter, where the protesters had been based for more than a month, rose to 23 people on Wednesday, following the deaths of a soldier and a protester.

Blood can still be seen on the streets in the area and makeshift Buddhist shrines have been set up near wrecked army personnel carriers daubed with graffiti, such as "tyrant Abhisit".

The government has blamed "terrorists" for the violence and ordered police to hunt for those responsible.

"We believe there were terrorists who were ambushing in the area," Sansern Kaewkumnerd, an army spokesman, said.

The red shirts, many of whom supported the ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, are calling for Abhisit and his government to step down and call early elections.

Abhisit, who most political analysts had predicted would ride out the storm, has seen his position undermined by an investigation into the funding of his Democrat Party and comments from the country's army chief that new elections were the only
way out of the crisis.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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