Thailand's 'Red Shirt' protesters are in the process of consolidating their forces in preparation for what they called 'final battleground' to oust the Prime Minister as the three-day Thai New Year or Songkran ends.
As the 'Songkran' or Thai new year celebrations enter its second day of the the traditional three-day festivities, another confrontation between the government authorities and 'Red Shirt' protesters looms as the group prepares to consolidate its forces at the end of the three-day event.
"We will use the Rachaprasong area as the final battleground to oust the government," protest leader Nattawut Saikua told reporters on Wednesday, referring to the hotel and shopping district a couple of blocks from Bangkok's financial area. "There will be no more negotiations."
The Rachaprasong area is being targeted by the Redshirt protesters as their converging point for what they termed as their final battleground to oust the government of Abhisit Vejajjiva. They have partially occupied the area in the last 10 days. The 'Red Shirt' protesters are demanding the ouster of Abhisit and dissolution of the parliament ahead of the promised new elections.
The 'Red Shirt' protesters are made up mostly of rural farmers and small entrepreneurs who are loyal to the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shanawatra who is in exile. "We are staying here until this government is gone," said Ratchada Pumsin, a 46-year-old housewife from the outskirts of Bangkok.
"I think our chance of winning is high." The 'Red Shirt' protesters have been camping in the commercial district of the city for about a month when government forces and the protesters clash after the police tried to clear the area resulting in the death of at least 23 persons and injury to hundreds of protesters.
Tension is running high as the three-day Songkran festivities ends while business establishments prepares to reopen on Friday. The United States and other Asean-member countries have called on the protesters and the Thai government for restraint and for the parties go back to the negotiating table for peaceful resolution of the conflict.
(original article appeared @ Digital Journal