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Protesters surround Thai Government House

Thousands threaten to block entrances to government headquarters in Bangkok,while hundreds of farmers storm PM's office.

Last updated: 17 Feb 2014 07:56
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The protesters have said they will persist until they topple the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra [AP]

Thousands of protesters seeking to oust Thai prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, surrounded the government's headquarters in Bangkok on Monday, while hundreds of farmers have breached razor-wire barricades outside her temporary office in another part of the capital.

More than 10,000 demonstrators encircled the heavily barricaded Government House, the prime minister's main offices, and threatened to seal entrances to the complex to prevent Yingluck and other ministers from working there.

National Security Council Chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr said on Monday that troops and police were stationed inside the building to avoid a confrontation with protesters, but were not preparing to use force.

"There are enough soldiers and police inside Government House to protect the building and the grounds," Paradorn told Reuters news agency. "The protesters said they will not come inside so we aren't expecting a confrontation."

We will use quick-dry cement to close the gates of Government House so that the cabinet cannot go in to work

Nittitorn Lamrue, leader of the Network of Students and People for Thailand's Reform

Meanwhile, hundreds of disgruntled Thai farmers farmers trampled razor wires and shoved soldiers guarding the compound of Yingluck's temporary office in Bangkok, where he has been forced to work since January.

Talks between police representatives and a prominent protest leader failed on Sunday to reach a deal to reopen state offices and roads in northern Bangkok that have been occupied for months by demonstrators. 

Police operation

Protesters moved concrete barriers to block entrances of Government House and poured cement over the barriers in what they said was a "symbolic gesture" to show the building was closed.

Some also threatened to seal the entrances to the building.

"We will use quick-dry cement to close the gates of Government House so that the cabinet cannot go in to work," said Nittitorn Lamrue, leader of the Network of Students and People for Thailand's Reform, a group aligned with the main protest group.

Hundreds of riot police began an operation on Friday to reclaim protest sites in Bangkok and reopen roads and state offices, some of which have been blocked for more than three months.

Labour minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, who is in charge of the security operation, said police would press ahead with a plan to reclaim protest sites near Government House, the Interior Ministry, the Energy Ministry and the government administration complex in north Bangkok.

Farmers' rage

The protest movement has seen numbers dwindle but has tried to align itself with thousands of protesting rice farmers who have not been paid for crops sold to the government under a state rice-buying scheme.

Farmers from nearly 20 provinces amassed outside the prime minister's temporary office on Monday, and demanded Yingluck meet them in person to answer when and if they will be paid.

The policy of buying rice from growers at above market prices has accumulated losses of at least $4.46bn. 

The country's anti-corruption body is investigating allegations that Yingluck, who is head of the national rice committee, was negligent in her role overseeing the programme.

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Source:
Reuters
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