Bangkok braces for violence as anti-govt campaign surrounds Par

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Bangkok, Nov 24 (UNI) Thousands of anti-government protestors surrounded and cut off electricity to the Thai Parliament building early today in a self-declared final assault to bring down Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat's administration.

The yellow-shirt clad protestors, including women and youth, rallying under the banner of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), marched towards Parliament from the Prime Minister's Office, which they had forcibly occupied for the past three months.

The PAD wanted to prevent the government from holding a discussion in Parliament today to an initiate amendment of the 2007 Constitution that was prepared by an assembly nominated by the September coup leaders.

Two people were killed and more than 400 injured in clashes between PAD and security forces in a similar incident, when PAD laid siege to parliament early last month.

Thousands of Thaksin supporters, who wore red shirts, rallied yesterday in a Bangkok to support the government amidst growing apprehensions that this could lead to a clash with the PAD today.

Led by a maverick media tycoon and a former Army general, the PAD accused the Somchai government of being a proxy of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in the September 2006 coup d'etat following months of similar PAD-led street protests.

Alleging that Mr Thaksin, once Thailand's richest person, had used money power to buy votes of poor, the PAD has proposed a controversial 'New Politics' that would set up a largely nominated parliament.

The PAD leaders and the main opposition Democrat Party alleged that the government wanted to amend the Constitution to protect Mr Thaksin and his family from criminal prosecution for corruption.

Mr Thaksin and his wife fled the country in August after his wife was sentenced to jail in one of several corruption allegations against the duo filed by an investigation panel set up after the coup.

Mr Thaksin was also sentenced to jail subsequently but has declared from abroad that the charges against him were politically motivated.


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