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Thai protesters besiege more ministries

Demonstrators surround government buildings, as Thai court issues warrant for top protest leader.

Last updated: 26 Nov 2013 15:15
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Thousands of protesters have surrounded Thailand's Interior Ministry and forced the evacuation of four others in an escalating campaign to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government.

The demonstrators continued their defiance on Tuesday of a tough security law imposed late on Monday, after they stormed other ministries, to control rallies against Yingluck and her billionaire brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Demonstrators targeted the tourism, transport, foreign and agriculture ministries on Tuesday, one day after swarming the finance and foreign ministries in the biggest street protests since the country's 2010 military crackdown. Officials left these government buildings.

Thailand's prime minister appealed for an end to "mob rule" as she prepared for a pivotal no-confidence vote in parliament.

Everybody must obey the law and not use mob rule to upstage the rule of law.

Yingluck Shinawatra, the prime minister of Thailand

Protests have been fuelled by claims Yingluck's government is controlled by her brother Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup in 2006 for alleged corruption.

"There are some accusations that I lack independence, and that I lack intelligence, and have to be controlled by pushing a button," she said in a televised speech on Tuesday.

"The accusations against me are too severe and unjust." 

Reporting from Bangkok, Al Jazeera's Florence Looi said that a Thai court approved an arrest warrant for Suthep Thaugsuban, one of the top protest leaders, on Tuesday in connection with the occupation of ministries.

Talking to Al Jazeera, Suthep Thaugsuban vowed to stay at the finance ministry, where he continued a sit-in protest with others, and said that he would address the protesters later in the day.

Looi also said that the police forces are planning to go to the occupied government buildings and try to persuade protesters to leave. 

ISA invoked

The police presence in Bangkok has grown in response to the expansion late Monday of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which gives authorities additional powers to block routes, impose a curfew, ban gatherings and carry out searches, although peaceful rallies are still allowed.

About 200 anti-government protesters camped out overnight at the finance ministry after Yingluck Shinawatra invoked the emergency law.

Al Jazeera's Florence Looi reports from capital Bangkok

"We have told protesters that after the ISA was invoked across Bangkok, they are violating the law by trespassing in ministries," said Paradorn Pattanatabut, chief of the National Security Council.

MPs are due to begin debating a no-confidence motion on Tuesday, which was put forward by the opposition last week as part of a barrage of legal and institutional challenges to Yingluck Shinawatra's embattled government.

The recent protests were sparked by ruling party plans to introduce an amnesty that could have allowed the return from self-imposed exile of Thaksin Shinawatra, a deeply polarising figure who remains a populist hero among the poor.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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