Thousands of protesters protested in the streets of Bangkok last week in the on-going political battle between the red-shirted supporters of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the yellow-shirted supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
Police estimated more than 20,000 people gathered outside Government House on Thursday evening. About 3,000 demonstrators remained on the streets around the seat of government Friday as leaders took to the stage to denounce the government in the midday heat.
The protesters had brought in cranes to remove shipping containers that police had positioned to block roads outside Government House in central Bangkok
Chanting "Get out! Get out!", they ringed Government House and listened to fiery anti-Abhisit speeches from the protest's leaders.
"Today we have only one aim, to oust this government," said protest leader Jatuporn Prompan.
The protests that started Thursday are the largest since Abhisit took power in December.
The ‘red-shirts’ are showing that they are capable of the same level of mass demonstrations that Thaksin’s opponents have staged over the last few years against Thaksin and his allies, a irony which is surely not lost on the current prime minister Abhisit who came to power on a wave of popular protests.
Video broadcasts by Thaksin were aired in the evenings. During his 75-minute video address on Saturday, beamed via a giant screen on the rally's stage, he called for fresh elections but promised he would not stand himself.
"I call on you to rise up across the country," Thaksin told about 30,000 protesters Saturday night.
"You don't need to come to Bangkok, but rally in peace throughout the country to say that we cherish democracy," said Thaksin.
Abhisit maintains he will remain in power, after some 4,000 protesters surrounded his offices for a third day following a speech by former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
The prime minister rejected Thaksin's call, made a night earlier in an angry video address to the rally, for the dissolution of the Lower House, and told reporters his priority was to end months of political turmoil in the kingdom.
Abhisit has ruled out imposing a state of emergency - a measure used last year when PAD protesters seized control of Government House and Bangkok's two airports.
AFP, Thai PM defiant as protest enters third day, 28 March 2009,
BBC, Rally calls for Thailand PM to go, 26 March 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7965319.stm
Washington Post, Thai PM rejects calls for his resignation, 27 March 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/26/AR200903...
The Sydney Morning Tribune, Exiled Thaksin calls Thai protesters, 27 March 2009, http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/exiled-thaksin-calls-thai-pro...