Bangkok braces as protesters set for shutdownAssociated Press . Bangkok
Residents of Thailand’s congested capital are bracing for worse traffic chaos than usual, with anti-government demonstrators planning to occupy major intersections Monday in what they describe as an effort to shut down Bangkok. There is concern that violence may ensue and possibly trigger a military coup.
The protesters are trying to force caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign and have her government replaced by a non-elected interim administration to implement reforms they say are needed to stop corruption and money politics. They want to scuttle an early general election called by Yingluck for February 2.
Since November, the demonstrators have engaged in street battles with police, cut off water and electricity to national police headquarters, and occupied for a time the compounds of other government agencies. There have been at least eight deaths, including a policeman, associated with the political unrest.
The protest leaders said last week that the demonstrators would occupy seven key intersections Monday in Bangkok, a city known for its debilitating traffic jams. They’re also threatening to occupy government office compounds.
Groups of demonstrators started arriving at some of the venues late Sunday, where they said they would erect stages.
Earlier on Sunday some demonstrators blocked a road in Bangkok’s northern outskirts, where many government offices are located, said Deputy Police Spokesman Colonel Anucha Romyanan. There were no immediate confrontations with the authorities, who have vowed to show restraint in order to avoid violence.
The deputy prime minister, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, said Friday that a combined force of around 12,000 police officers and 8,000 soldiers was being deployed to maintain order in the capital.
Protest leaders have said they will maintain their ‘shutdown’ of Bangkok for weeks, or until they obtain their goal. Their recent demonstrations have drawn up to 150,000-200,000 people at their height. Attacks on government installations have been carried out by young men armed with home-made weapons.
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