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Supporters rally round embattled Thai leader

Written by: Staff
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BANGKOK, Mar 3 (Reuters) Supporters of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra poured into Bangkok from around the country today to pack what he hopes will be a huge rally later in the day to counter an intense campaign to oust him.

Thaksin, under constant attack in Bangkok since relatives sold the business empire he founded for a tax-free 1.9 billion dollars in January, hoped to address the nation's biggest ever rally, his Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party said.

The plan was for him to propose a way out of a growing political crisis he sought to counter by calling a snap election on April 2, three years early and only 14 months after he swept back to power in a second landslide election victory.

Thaksin has offered to meet some of the demands of three opposition parties which have declared an election boycott because they say Thaksin has taken over political institutions meant to be independent and therefore a fair poll is impossible.

Newspapers are quoting Thai Rak Thai sources as saying he would lay out a plan for political reforms after the April poll and hold another election six months later.

Thaksin was proposing to make his next government an interim one, with the main task of amending the 1997 ''People's Constitution'' before a new election, the sources were quoted as saying.

''He will disclose his political reform plan, how he will lead an interim government,'' party spokesman Jatuporn Prompan told a Bangkok radio station without revealing details.

''The prime minister wants stability to return soonest and Thai Rak Thai will spend a short period of time finishing amending the constitution,'' he said.

RURAL STRONGHOLD SAFE MORE REUTERS PR SP1311

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