About twenty-thousand supporters of exiled former Thai Prime Minister
Shinawatra braved heavy rains and flooding in central Bangkok on
Saturday to hear him appeal by video link for national reconciliation
and new elections.
The demonstration by Thaksin supporters known as "red shirts" took
place on the third anniversary of his ouster by a military coup, while
he was attending a UN general assembly meeting in New York.
Thousands of security forces kept a close watch on the demonstrators as
Mr. Thaksin spoke, but there were no reports of disturbances or
violence. Mr. Thaksin said in his three-year absence Thailand had slid
backward and he called for a return to normality.
Meanwhile in a separate development near the Cambodian border, "red
shirt" villagers clashed with royalist protesters known as "yellow
shirts" who were on their way to a disputed temple site. The French
news agency reports clashes between royalists and riot police at the
An international court gave Cambodia control of the Preah Vihear temple
complex in 1962, but some nearby lands remain in dispute. The "yellow
shirt" protesters want the government to push Cambodian forces back
from the temple.
Thailand's Cabinet had approved a special security law that allowed
soldiers to control the movements of protesters in the Bangkok
district, where parliament and other government buildings are located.
The law will be in effect until Monday.
On Friday, the army chief (General Anupong Paojinda)
denied rumors the military would stage a coup in the prime minister's
absence. Prime Minister Abhisit is heading to New York for this year's
U.N. General Assembly.
Mr. Thaksin was accused of corruption and abuse of power while in
office. He denies the charges and calls them politically motivated. He
was subsequently convicted in absentia and sentenced to two years in