Protesters gear up to shut down Bangkok
THAI anti-government protesters began mobilising in Bangkok yesterday, a day ahead of their planned "shutdown" of the capital, as they stepped up efforts to topple the government and halt upcoming elections.
The politically turbulent country has been shaken by weeks of opposition rallies against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra which have caused the government to call the Feb 2 snap polls.
Demonstrators, who have vowed to disrupt the vote, began packing possessions and equipment at their main Bangkok rally site, as they prepared to fan out to seven locations across the city today in an attempt to choke off transport into the capital.
"We hope everything will change in a good way tomorrow. The change we want to see is for this government to stop being corrupt, or it should resign," said Mr Komol, a protester at the site who gave only one name.
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former MP for the opposition Democrat Party that is boycotting the elections, has said he expects a large turnout for the latest demonstration.
The demonstrators say they will block major intersections, stop officials going to work and cut off power to key state offices.
Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, one of several people to hold the position, said: "Prime Minister Yingluck has ordered all police and military staff to exercise the upmost restraint and not to use all kinds of weapons in handling the protesters."
The authorities said they are ready to declare a state of emergency if there is fresh unrest, and roughly 20,000 policemen and soldiers will be deployed for security.
Eight people, including a policeman, have been killed and dozens injured in street violence since the protests began in late October.