Thai protesters gather outside more govt offices

Thai protesters gather outside more govt offices
Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban (C) gestures during a protest at a Government Complex in Bangkok on November 27, 2013. Thailand's mass political protests spread outside the capital on November 27 as opposition demonstrators stepped up their attempts to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government, plunging the country deeper into crisis,

PROTESTERS seeking to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's administration massed outside more government offices on Wednesday, brushing off any idea of compromise.

Thousands marched to a government complex on Bangkok's outskirts that houses Thailand's top crime-fighting agency, led by Mr Suthep Thaugsuban, who announced that the spot would be turned into a rally site.

A warrant of arrest has already been issued for Mr Suthep, a former deputy prime minister under the previous Democrat government, for orchestrating the takeover of Thailand's Finance Ministry on Monday. It is still occupied by protesters.

At least four other ministries and 24 provincial halls were affected by protests on Wednesday, according to Reuters. Many of the provincial halls were in the south, a Democrat stronghold.

Thailand's central bank also unexpectedly lowered the policy rate from 2.5 per cent to 2.25 per cent yesterday, due to weaker than projected growth in the third quarter.

"Looking ahead, there are higher downside risks to growth stemming from delay in government investment and fragile private confidence, which could be compounded by the ongoing political situation," it said in a statement.

Investor confidence has headed south since political protests flared up a month ago after the ruling Puea Thai party introduced legislation that would have granted amnesty to self-exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Ms Yingluck's brother.

Economist Tanawat Ruenbanterng from the Tisco Economic Strategy Unit noted that foreigners sold more shares than they bought so far this month - more than 40 billion baht (S$1.5 billion) on a net basis - compared with only one billion baht last month.

"It remains difficult for the economy to be back on track as long as political risk remains," he told The Straits Times.

Ms Yingluck, who was grilled on the second day of a censure debate, said yesterday that contrary to rumours, there would be no crackdown on protesters. "My government will not use force."

But the police are seeking arrest warrants for at least six more protest leaders for trespassing on government property.

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