Sun, Mar 21, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Protesters' caravan winds way through Thailand's capital

AP , BANGKOK

A crimson tide of protesters snaked its way through the streets of the Thai capital yesterday, traveling in a caravan of thousands of cars, trucks and motorbikes to drum up support for their campaign to oust a government they call illegitimate.

The “Red Shirt” protesters plan to follow the march with a giant painting made from their own blood today, the latest shock tactic in their weeklong campaign to force Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and call new elections.

The raucous procession, which organizers said wound its way through 70km of city streets, was met with curious and often sympathetic crowds, revealing a level of support in the capital that the conventional wisdom of the Thai press had underestimated.

The caravan stretched at times at least 10km along Bangkok’s streets, and Vichai Sangparpai, a commander in the Metropolitan Police, estimated the number of participants at 100,000, though the department later gave a figure of 65,000 people traveling on 10,000 motorcycles and 7,000 cars and trucks.

A Thai government minister is to meet a representative of the “Red Shirt” protesters holding mass anti-government rallies in Bangkok, a senator said yesterday.

Satit Wonghnongtaey, the minister attached to the prime minister’s office, and Weng Tojirakarn, considered a second-tier leader of the protest movement, will meet at midday tomorrow, Senator Lertrat Ratanavanich said.

The protesters had previously refused the government’s offer of talks unless Abhisit agreed to their demand to call snap elections.

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