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Huge turnout for final people rally against Thai caretaker PM

Written by: Staff

Bangkok, Mar 26: Tens of thousands of people assembled outside the Thai Prime Minister's office here for the final push in a popular campaign to force the leader to step down ahead of next Sunday's snap poll.

The protestors yesterday announced they would march today down central Bangkok past the city's glitzy shopping malls and tourist areas.

Leaders of the umbrella grouping of pro-democracy civil society groups spearheading the over two-month-old campaign, called on Thailand's revered King to resolve the political deadlock by replacing caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra with a neutral government.

"We the King's subjects, see no other way to resolve the crisis without causing bloodshed," the protestors, holding candles over their heads, chanted after the leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

Mr Thaksin, who has led the country's first democratically elected single party majority government for the past five years, has been at the centre of a raging political controversy since the tax-free 1.9 billion US dollar sale of his family telecom business to a Singapore state company in late January.

The business deal has drawn heavy flak from the opposition parties and civil society groups for placing strategic national assets in foreign hands.

In another weekend protest rally, the main opposition Democrat party, which is boycotting the April 2 snap elections called by Mr Thaksin, sought royal installation of a neutral government to supervise constitutional reform.

Mr Thaksin first came to office five years ago on the back of populist promises which have won him widespread rural support as well as the backing of urban daily wage earners.

However, his opponents charged him with misusing his unprecedented popular mandate to stifle media freedom, human rights and promote cronyism.


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