Thai protest leader calls for last chance protest

Thai protest leader calls for last chance protest
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban's wife Srisakul Promphan adjusts his whistle before he addresses anti-government protesters at the occupied Government complex in Bangkok

BANGKOK - The leader of mass opposition protests that have shaken the Thai capital called Friday for a last-ditch effort to topple the government, vowing to surrender to the authorities if the action fails.

With turnout dwindling after more than a month of rolling rallies, the former deputy premier spearheading the movement gave the first indication that he might concede defeat unless enough people join the protest on Monday, describing it as "judgment day".

"If the people do not come out, I will surrender to go to jail. I will not fight anymore," Suthep Thaugsuban said in a speech to supporters. "Live or die, lose or win -- we will know on Monday December 9."

The kingdom remains on edge following several days of street clashes between police using tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets against rock-throwing demonstrators seeking to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and curb the political influence of her brother Thaksin.

Yingluck 's office said she had cancelled two planned trips overseas next week to Russia and to the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar to monitor the unrest, which has left five people dead and more than 200 injured in Bangkok.

The protesters, a mix of royalists, middle class and other Thaksin opponents -- sometimes numbering in their tens of thousands -- want to suspend the country's democracy in favour of an unelected "people's council".

Suthep, a former deputy premier who now faces an arrest warrant for insurrection, has pledged to rid Thailand of what he calls the "Thaksin regime".

Demonstrators and police in Bangkok have observed a temporary truce since Wednesday for the 86th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is treated as a near-deity by many Thais.

Suthep told supporters to rest for the rest of the weekend and to take to the streets again on Monday to march on the government headquarters.

The government on Tuesday abruptly ordered police to avoid confrontation with protesters, briefly allowing them into the police and Government House in a surprise move that sharply reduced tensions in the capital.

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