Down the streets of Bangkok

Down the streets of Bangkok

BANGKOK - Some 27,000 people took part in 14 marches across Bangkok yesterday, Metropolitan Police spokesman Maj-General Adul Narongsak said, though he pointed out that the crowd at Democracy Monument had surged on Sunday, allegedly to 82,000 people.

Meanwhile, at the Makkawan rally site, as many as 9,000 people had joined the rally on Sunday, but the numbers tapered down to 2,500 yesterday.

At Nang Lerng, police estimated the peak number of protesters at 3,500, before it dwindled to 1,000, who joined a march to the Foreign Ministry yesterday. This march was not part of the 14 planned for yesterday.

At the height of the protest on Sunday, police detained Sanit Pongjina, 45, for reportedly carrying a handgun in the vicinity of the Pheu Thai Party headquarters. Sanit was charged with possession of an unauthorised weapon.

In another incident, unknown assailants hurled three explosives at anti-riot police deployed near the protest site at Makkawan Bridge. The explosives damaged property and no casualties were reported.

In one of yesterday's marches, protesters rallied at the Royal Thai Police headquarters, before heading to the Siam BTS station on Rama 1 Road. The crowds then handed jasmine garlands to the 15 companies of policemen, who had been mobilised from Bangkok and upcountry to maintain peace.

Akanat Promphan, spokesperson for the Anti-Thaksin Network, then led the crowds to the Army headquarters, saying this was a move to root out the Thaksin regime. At the Army headquarters, the protesters presented roses and whistles, which were accepted by three Army representatives on behalf of Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha. Akanat also called on the Army to side with the people.

Core organisers of the march, including Democrat MP Chirapat Bhirombhakdi and Democrat deputy spokeswoman Mallika Boonmeetrakul, also delivered speeches at the site attacking the government for lacking the legitimacy to remain in power.

Separately, former Democrat MP Chumpol Jumsai led protesters to the Metropolitan Police Bureau headquarters, where they threatened to camp out if Metropolitan Police chief Lt-General Camronwit Toopgrajank refused to meet them. He said he also wanted Camronwit to withdraw his statement about being indebted to former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

Upon hearing that the police chief would not be coming out to meet them, some protesters were seen hurling bottled water at the building.

Meanwhile, another group of protesters held a rally at the Interior Ministry before returning to the Democracy Monument in the afternoon.

Push cancelled

The Students and People Network for Thailand's Reform yesterday dropped the idea of pushing their way through a police line to besiege Government House and instead returned to their rally site at Nang Lerng intersection.

The confrontation with police at Wat Benjamabophit intersection came to an end at about 2.30pm after security forces put up concrete barriers and reinforced them with barbed wire.

About half an hour earlier, the protesters had removed the barbed wire at the spot and came close to clashing with police officers present at the site. Some protesters snatched police shields and hurled bottles of water at the police officers, prompting them to take shelter behind trucks.

However, things calmed down a bit at around 2.30pm when police managed to restore the barriers.

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