Pressure on Yingluck ahead of censure debate

Pressure on Yingluck ahead of censure debate

ESCALATING street protests in Bangkok have piled the pressure on Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as her government began a censure debate on Tueday.

The opposition Democrat Party, which submitted the censure motion, is also leading anti-government demonstrations that have taken a potentially damaging turn after more than 30,000 protesters marched to government offices and TV stations across the city on Monday and occupied the finance as well as foreign ministries.

According to foreign ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee, protesters forced their way into the compound at 6.20pm. Although they allowed staff to leave, they blocked staff from entering the buildings. At press time, there were more than 1,000 protesters in the compound, said Mr Sek.

Earlier in the day, more than 1,000 people swarmed the area outside the Royal Thai Police headquarters near Ratchaprasong junction, in the retail heart of Bangkok. They occupied a stretch of road directly in front of the compound, as police in riot gear stared impassively behind close gates and barbed wire.

Monday's scenes bore shades of some of the political turbulence that rocked Thailand in the years leading up to Puea Thai's election victory in 2011.

In 2008, protesters opposing a government allied to exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra - Ms Yingluck's brother - occupied the Government House for three months. Two years later, when Thailand was ruled by the Democrats, pro-Thaksin protesters occupied Ratchaprasong junction, sparking a bloody military crackdown.

Among Monday's protesters were young Bangkok residents like Mr Nattapon Ponghanpot, 24, who declared: "If we go on for two or three more days like this, it will be the end of this government."

Key protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister, quit as a Democrat legislator two weeks ago to focus on ousting what he calls the "Thaksin regime".

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