Thailand protesters target army, ruling party headquarters

  • 29 November 2013
  • From the section Asia
Media captionThe BBC's Jonah Fisher in Bangkok: "Army officers looked on with some bemusement"

Hundreds of protesters in Thailand forced their way into the army headquarters in Bangkok, on the sixth day of anti-government rallies.

The protesters broke open a gate, held a rally in the compound asking for the army's help in their campaign, and later withdrew without confrontation.

On Thursday, PM Yingluck Shinawatra called for an end to the demonstrations after surviving a no-confidence vote.

But protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has rejected her appeal.

"We will not let them work anymore," the former senior opposition lawmaker said in a speech late on Thursday.

On Friday at least 1,000 protesters forced their way into the army headquarters compound, but did not enter any buildings.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher, who was at the scene, said protesters were massed on a lawn listening to speeches from leaders on a stage they had erected.

They urged the army to come out in support of the demonstrators. "We want to know which side the army stands on," Reuters news agency quoted one protester as saying.

Image caption Protesters are inside the army HQ compound, sitting on the lawn
Image caption In the last week protesters have marched on different government buildings
Image caption On Thursday, they protested at the national police headquarters, shutting it down
Image caption The government has asked the protesters to hold talks - but has been rejected

Our correspondent described the atmosphere as good natured and said the authorities appeared keen to avoid confrontation. The protesters later left peacefully.

Meanwhile security was tightened around the ruling Pheu Thai party headquarters, where more protesters had massed.

"We are deploying two companies of police [around 300 officers] at Pheu Thai party headquarters after they asked for protection," deputy national police chief Worapong Siewpreecha told AFP news agency.

'No political games'

Demonstrators have been surrounding and occupying official buildings this week in an attempt to disrupt the government.

During the demonstrations, which have been largely peaceful so far, participants have cut the electricity supply to the national police headquarters and forced the evacuation of Thailand's top crime-fighting agency.

The protesters say Ms Yingluck's government is controlled by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Ms Yingluck has invoked special powers allowing curfews and road closures, and police have also ordered the arrest of Mr Suthep - but so far no move has been made to detain him.

In a televised address on Thursday, Ms Yingluck said the protesters should negotiate with the government.

"The government doesn't want to enter into any political games because we believe it will cause the economy to deteriorate," she said.

An estimated 100,000 opposition supporters protested in Bangkok on Sunday, although the numbers appear to have dropped significantly during the week.

Some reports expect turnout to rise again over the weekend.

The country is facing its largest protests since 2010, when thousands of "red-shirt" Thaksin supporters occupied key parts of the capital. More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month sit-in.

The proposed passage of a controversial political amnesty bill, which critics said would have facilitated the return of Thaksin without having to serve jail, reignited simmering political tensions.

The Senate rejected the bill, which sought to cover offences committed during the upheaval after Thaksin was removed from office.

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