[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Thai opposition stages major rally
Red shirt demonstrators hold a massive rally in Bangkok after prime minister announces possibility of early elections.
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2011 07:12 GMT
Thaksin said the next election will test Thai leaders on their willingness to recognise the will of the people [EPA]

Thousands of red-shirted demonstrators have rallied in the Thai capital to mark one year since violent clashes left at least 90 dead and about 1,400 injured last year.

The gathering at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok came a day after Abhisit Vejjajjiva, the Thai prime minister, said he will dissolve parliament and call for elections, expected in June.

The so-called red shirts have been demanding early elections claiming Abhisit came to power through undemocratic means.

Thailand has been embroiled in a political war that has been raging since 2006 when Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted from office in a 2006 bloodless military coup following months of protests alleging he was corrupt and had treated the country's esteemed King Bhumibol Adulyadej with disrespect.

The former prime minister's supporters came back to win elections in December 2007, only to be forced from power a year later by a combination of judicial and legislative manoeuvring.

On Saturday Thaksin told supporters via video link from overseas that "the next elections will be another test that can prove if those in power can respect the people's decision".

He fled into exile in 2008 to escape a jail term on a corruption conviction, insisting he was a victim of political persecution.

'Struggle for justice'

Saturday's rally was also the first joint appearance on stage of the red shirt movement's top leaders since they were freed on bail late last month after being detained on terrorism charges last May. They have said they will run in the next elections, partly to gain parliamentary immunity against future arrest.

Thaksin's opponents and supporters have both staged aggressive street protests, the most violent being the red shirt demonstrations of last year, which ended with the burning of a major shopping mall and other public buildings as the Thai military crushed the protesters.

Nattawut Saikua, a red shirt leader, said at the protest site that the group would struggle for justice for members killed, injured or detained during last year's unrest.

"And if there is a dissolution of parliament and the conditions for general elections are met, we are ready to push the red shirt people to fight in the election battle as well."

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Afghan militias have accumulated a lengthy record of human-rights abuses, including murders and rapes.
Growing poverty is strengthening a trend among UK Muslims to fund charitable work closer to home.
A groundbreaking study from Johns Hopkins University shows that for big segments of the US population it is.
Critics claim a vaguely worded secrecy law gives the Japanese government sweeping powers.
A new book looks at Himalayan nation's decades of political change and difficult transition from monarchy to democracy.
join our mailing list