Embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday easily won a no-confidence vote in parliament, but failed to pacify anti-government protesters who rejected calls for talks and massed by the thousands in the capital.
Waving multicolored flags, blowing whistles and blocking traffic, protesters rallied outside the heavily barricaded national police headquarters, urging police to join their bid to topple Yingluck and her billionaire brother, ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
“Kill the Thaksin regime,” the protesters shouted.
That is not so easy. The number of protesters appears to have dwindled since the start of the week, raising questions over what is next in a conflict that broadly pits Bangkok’s middle classes against the mostly rural supporters of Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup.
Yingluck, who won a 2011 election by a landslide to become Thailand’s first female prime minister, called on the protesters to clear the streets and enter into talks to avoid confrontation, saying Thailand’s economy was at risk after demonstrators occupied the finance ministry on Monday.
“The government doesn’t want to enter into any political games because we believe it will cause the economy to deteriorate,” she said in a televised address.
In a sign that support for the protest could be ebbing, police spokesman Piya Uthayo said the “main force” of anti-government protesters in Bangkok was now less than about 15,000, compared with at least 100,000 on Sunday, though the total fluctuates through the day and into the evening.
The protesters’ ultimate goals appear increasingly unclear. They have urged civil servants nationwide to resign en masse and for the creation of a democratically elected “people’s assembly” to run alongside parliament and lead electoral reforms. Neither looks achievable, at least in the near term.
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, former prime minister of a military-backed government that Yingluck routed in the 2011 election, called on Yingluck to “move aside” and said party members would march with the protesters today.
“This prime minister no longer has a mandate to govern the country,” he told reporters.
A defiant Yingluck has said she will not dissolve parliament. Even if she did, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said the rallies would continue.
“No more negotiations,” he told cheering crowds late on Wednesday after thousands massed outside government ministries, a state office complex and 25 provincial halls. His stepson, Akanat Promphan, spokesman for the Civil Movement for Democracy, as the protesters call themselves, also rejected talks.
“The prime minister’s suggestion that all sides sit down and talk is insincere and we do not accept it,” he said.