Thai protesters launch 'final fight' as government clings on

Thai protesters launch 'final fight' as government clings on
Thai protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban (centre).

BANGKOK - Thai protesters vowed Friday to besiege television stations and police positions as they launched a "final fight" to topple a government that is on the ropes after its leader was dismissed.

Several thousand protesters left their main encampment in a park in the city's commercial district as their firebrand leader Suthep Thaugsuban issued a rallying cry for them to establish a parallel government.

"We will regain our sovereign power and set up a people's government and a people's legislative council," Suthep said before leading a march to Government House, which has been targeted by protesters for months.

"We will march on all television stations... we ask city residents to surround police cars and police headquarters to stop them from hurting our people," he added.

Suthep is known for his hyperbolic statements and, with the government weakened but still standing, the call for a unilateral administration appears to lack any legal ground.

Although buffeted by the removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday by the Constitutional Court on abuse of power charges, the current Puea Thai administration has staggered on.

It has appointed Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan as its new premier and won a reprieve on Thursday as the kingdom's anti-graft panel stepped back from hauling more cabinet members into a separate indictment against Yingluck over a costly rice subsidy scheme.

There were fears the agency could have moved against the remainder of the government to complete a "judicial coup" and create a power vacuum that could have been filled by an appointed leader.

Hundreds of police were deployed to manage Friday's protests, as fears simmered of street clashes between rival groups. Police said some 4,500 anti-government protesters were marching from their encampment at Bangkok's Lumpini Park.

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