Mon, Jun 18, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Thaksin followers demand elections

SHOWDOWN The protesters want elections to take place according to the 1997 Constitution that the coup leaders abolished after their takeover last September


Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra demanded yesterday that the coup leaders who drove him out resign, and called for elections to be held immediately.

The demands, delivered in a letter to military headquarters, came a day after several thousand Thaksin supporters gathered at Sanam Luang, an open park near Bangkok's Grand Palace.

Daily rallies by Thaksin supporters have increased the risk of confrontation between them and the military leaders who overthrew him in September for alleged corruption and abuse of power.

"We want the Council for National Security [the coup leaders' official name] members to resign and hold an election immediately," said Weng Tojirakan, one of the nine rally leaders who submitted the demand letter.

A low-ranking official received the document through a chained front gate of the army headquarters.

There was no immediate response from the military-backed government, although coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin said last week he will not resign because he has done nothing wrong.

The protest leaders also demanded that elections take place in accordance with the 1997 Constitution that the coup leaders abolished after the takeover in September. A new constitution is being drafted ahead of the elections set for December.

The demands are the latest effort by pro-Thaksin forces to increase pressure on coup leaders -- putting Bangkok on edge as the capital swirls with rumors of more military crackdowns and coup attempts.

On Friday night, thousands of Thaksin's supporters gathered at Sanam Luang to witness him berating the coup leaders in a recorded video message from London, where he has been living in exile since the coup.

Thaksin denounced the government's decision to freeze his and his family's bank accounts, with more than 52 billion baht (US$1.6 billion).

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