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Pro-Thaksin protesters end Bangkok rally: leaders

world Updated: Feb 27, 2009 11:08 IST

AFP
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Supporters of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday abandoned a protest camp outside the prime minister's office but vowed to continue their fight to unseat him.

Hundreds of red clad protesters have been besieging Government House Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's office since on Tuesday in a bid to push for new elections in Thailand, which has already seen months of political upheaval.

Leaders of the so called "Red Shirts" had vowed to wage a "protracted" campaign against the two month old government, but despite attracting 10,000 people on Tuesday, numbers dwindled throughout the week.

"On behalf of democracy loving people, the Red Shirts have the legitimacy to intensify our fight against disguised dictatorship in order to regain democracy," protest leader Veera Musikapong told the crowds.

"But it is useless to rally at Government House," he said. "To achieve our goal we will carry on our fight in both urban and rural areas, outside and inside parliament."

The dispersal of the rally comes as heads of state from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) begin gathering in Thailand's resort town on Hua Hin for the regional bloc's annual summit.

Police told AFP that protesters in Bangkok packed up and left early on Friday morning, but Veera said the group would march on Government House again in a month unless the government met their demands.

As well as calling for new elections, the Red Shirts want the constitution amended and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to resign because of his ties to the anti-Thaksin protest group, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

They also want PAD leaders to face legal action for their week long seizure in late November early December of Bangkok's two airports, which ended only when a court dissolved the Thaksin linked former ruling party.

That move allowed Abhisit's Democrat Party to fill the power vacuum and win a parliamentary vote, leaving many of Thaksin's supporters feeling robbed of their democratic rights.