Thai Troops Retreat as Red Shirt Protesters Threaten to Break-in

27/03/2010 17:10
Cooler heads prevented what could have been a violent confrontation between government troops and 'Red Shirts' demonstrators numbering about 80,000 who are demanding the dissolution of parliament and holding of general elections.
Thai troops have reached an agreement with Red Shirt protesters to back off from their positions near the government house in Bangkok in order to avert any untoward incident that could lead to violence and bloodshed as the demonstrators become increasingly restless with their demands.
Thousands of Red Shirt protesters have been camping outside the government house for several days demanding dissolution of parliament and immediate holding of new election for government leaders. Bangkok Post reports:
A swarm of protesters led by anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) co-leader Suporn Attawong, Payap Panket and Waipot Arpornrat earlier gathered in front of Government House and issued an ultimatum, demanding troops inside the compound to return to their barracks. The troops refused, causing the red-shirts to threaten to break into the compound.
However, the negotiation between Mr Suporn and Metropolitan Police Division 1 commander Wichai Sangprapai was successful after Mr Suporn told the demonstrators to stop pressuring the soldiers at Government House and return to their main rally site near Phan Fa bridge, the report added.
Suthep Thaugsuban, the deputy prime minister in charge of national security, played down the withdrawal as an "adjustment" and said the troops would return later in the day.
"Right now they have to move out to avoid a confrontation," he said in a news conference from the army barracks on Bangkok's northern outskirts where the government is based during the protests.
The Red Shirt protesters composed of about 80,000 street demonstrators are mostly supporters of the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who is in exile. In a recent court ruling in Thailand, the court ordered the confiscation of $1.4 billion dollars of Thaksin's fortune, claiming they were illegally obtained.
The protesters claimed victory on the pull out of troops and vowed to mount a bigger protest Sunday to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajjiva to address the political issue.
"We hope we will meet with Abhisit," said protest leader Veera Musikapong. "I hope tomorrow will be the end of this political rally."
(original article appeared @ Digital Journal )

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