Thai red shirts step up pressure

Hundreds of riot police deployed as protesters defy orders to clear Bangkok streets.

    Business leaders have said the protests could do lasting damage to the Thai economy [Reuters]

    "We will teach the government a lesson - that every road belongs to the people," one of the protest leaders, Nattawut Saikua, told the Associated Press new agency.


    With tensions running high, tens of thousands of demonstrators pushed against police lines early on Tuesday, pelting police with eggs and plastic water bottles.

    in depth

      Q&A: Thaksin and the Red Shirts
      Thailand: Warring Colours
      Profile: Thaksin Shinawatra
      Video: 'Red Shirts' swarm Bangkok

    The clashes follow more than three weeks of protests by the red shirts who want the Thai prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, to dissolve his government and call new elections.

    Abhisit has offered to call elections by December, a year ahead of schedule, but the protesters have said they want to see action much sooner.

    Many of the protesters are supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup.

    The red shirt movement - known formally as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship - contends that Abhisit, who became prime minister in December 2008, came to power illegitimately.

    The Thai government, for its part, has reiterated that it wants to solve the crisis peacefully.

    "Under the current climate, many citizens wouldn't want violence to take place or confrontation. And we've been mindful of that concern. It's the direction that informed our actions," Panithan Wattanayakorn, a government spokesman, told reporters as Tuesday's clashes began.

    The protests have caused widespread disruption in the Thai capital and business leaders have warned that unless the crisis is brought to a swift end it will inflict lasting damage on the economy.

    More than a dozen malls in one of Bangkok's top shopping districts have been forced to close as a result of the protests, with many nearby hotels reporting an exodus of tourists.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.