"Red Shirt" Rally

Tens of thousands of Thais have gathered in Bangkok calling for new elections and to support former prime minister Thaksin who has lived in exile in Dubai since a coup deposed him in 2006.

Tens of thousands of Thais have gathered in Bangkok calling for new elections and to support former prime minister Thaksin who has lived in exile in Dubai since a coup deposed him in 2006. "Riot police and soldiers guarded government offices as part of a 50,000-strong security force deployed on the streets to prevent any outbreak of violence on Sunday. Bangkok police said 45,000 protesters from the north and northeast of the country had turned up at the rally site by Saturday night. The government said it expected about 70,000 Red Shirts(the colour worn by Thaksin supporters) to attend, but the protesters have said the number will be several times higher. Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Bangkok, said the security forces and the government are bracing themselves for a tense few days. 'They are calling it D-Day here in the Thai capital, Bangkok, the day that the supporters of the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will try to force parliament to be dissolved and for fresh elections to be called,' he said. 'Now if the demands of the so-called Red Shirts are not met, they say that they will spread out around the city and paralyse Bangkok. They are also saying that they will move onto what they are calling an important location; it's believed that location is a military base nearby, to try to apply direct pressure to the prime minister [Abhisit Vejjajiva].'"

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