Thailand's Thaksin texts mass rallying cry

Fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra issued a rallying cry to thousands of supporters Wednesday, sending text messages ahead of an anti-government rally this weekend.

Supporters of Thailand's fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the so-called 'Red Shirts'.

Leaders of the so-called "Red Shirt" movement say they expect up to 600,000 demonstrators to start gathering in the capital from Friday, after last month's court ruling confiscating 1.4 billion dollars of Thaksin's fortune.

"On (March) 14, come and gather to bring back our lost democracy and justice for future Thai generations," the twice-elected tycoon, deposed in a coup in 2006, said to subscribers to his text messaging service.

Thaksin, who made his fortune in telecommunications, has also been egging on his supporters via videolink and his Twitter page from self-imposed exile in Dubai, where he is living to avoid a jail term for graft.

The government predicts that only 100,000 protesters will gather for the rally's main day on Sunday, but it is invoking a tough security law and has vowed to use "all means" to stop any violence.

On Wednesday current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva chaired a meeting with ministers, top armed forces and security officials to discuss plans for controlling the rally.

"Intelligence showed that there will be sabotage," he told reporters afterwards. "The public does not need to panic but please be cautious."

The Internal Security Act will be in force between March 11 and 23, allowing authorities to deploy troops on the streets during the rallies and to impose curfews and ban gatherings.

Under the law the government also banned farm vehicles from the capital in an apparent bid to block the movement of protesters from Thaksin's heartland in the rural north.

Security officials said at least 30,000 troops and police would be deployed or on standby along with thousands more civilian security volunteers, although final numbers had yet to be determined.

The government has also prepared safe houses for senior figures.

The country remains deeply divided between largely poor supporters of the populist Thaksin, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006, and those among the Bangkok-based elites who view him as corrupt.

Source: AFP

Other news