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Thai protesters move to new rally site

Anti-government demonstrators camped out in Lumpini park since March relocate to new headquarters near Government House.

Last updated: 12 May 2014 06:59
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Thai protesters are calling for reforms to end the influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [AP]

Thai anti-government protesters have packed their bags and moved out from Lumpini park to move to a new rally site near Government House as they vowed to take down the caretaker government.

The administration, loyal to ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra who was removed by the constitutional court last week for abuse of power, is desperately clinging to power and to the hope of an election to restore its authority.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy premier in a government run by the pro-establishment Democrat Party, had called his supporters out onto Bangkok's streets on Friday for what he said would be a final push to get the government out.

The protesters want elections planned for July postponed and reforms to end what they say is the influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother.

"Tomorrow will be our final day. I've been waiting for six month now," said 58-year-old protester Chit Lamai.

"I'm sure we'll win. Definitely, we will win," said a 63-year-old unidentified protester from Chumporn province, one of the thousands who have been camping out at Lumpini park since March.

Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from Bangkok, said there had been some protesters present at the new rally site since March but that it would now become the focal point for the opposition.

Meanwhile, the country's new caretaker leader hosted his first formal news conference with foreign media where he shrugged off the protesters' plans to occupy the symbolic seat of power.

"We do not want violence or any problems,'' said acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, defending the government's hands-off approach as good crisis management.

Monday's developments highlighted the government's lack of power as Thailand's political crisis grinds into its seventh month. One newspaper compared the political situation to a sinking ship that it called the "Thaitanic."

The protesters have derided the legitimacy of the government and are calling on the upper house of parliament, the courts and the election commission to appoint a new prime minister.

The head of the government team overseeing security during months of demonstrations against Yingluck and her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, said protest leader Suthep's call for a new prime minister was illegal.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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