Protest leader a godfather-like figure in south

Protest leader a godfather-like figure in south
Mr Suthep posing for a photo with a supporter inside the government complex at Chaeng Wattana in Bangkok on Tuesday.

The lunchtime crowd of civil servants swarm around the bespectacled, silver-haired man, waiting patiently for their turn to be photographed with him. In return, he wraps his arms around their shoulders, grinning widely for the camera like a genial grandfather.

Mr Suthep Thaugsuban, 64, is holding court in Bangkok's Government Complex, a vast compound housing various state agencies on the outskirts of the capital, which has been occupied by hundreds of protesters trying to topple the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

But Mr Suthep is aiming to do more than that. He wants to eliminate the "regime" of Ms Yingluck's brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is still seen as wielding inordinate influence over the government.

Last month, he quit Parliament together with eight other Democrat lawmakers to lead an anti- government protest that has since spiralled into Thailand's most serious crisis since 2010.

Protesters and police have now reached an apparent truce after a week-long siege of key government buildings - and the subsequent tensions it inflamed - left at least four dead and 200 injured.

Mr Suthep declared this a victory, but wants the protest to continue. He has outwardly refused to negotiate. And he would not be satisfied with Ms Yingluck's resignation or Parliament's dissolution.

"They can always come back to suck the blood of the people, steal from people, disrespect the Constitution and make us their slaves," he was quoted as telling supporters on Sunday.

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