Thai demonstration targets king's adviser

Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated outside the home of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s top adviser today, accusing him of orchestrating the 2006 coup that toppled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The crowd clapped and cheered as protest leaders called for the resignation of Prem Tinsulanonda, an 88-year-old privy councillor.

Soldiers stood guard inside the compound and several rows of riot police blocked the street with barbed-wire barricades.

Estimates put the crowd between 40,000 and 200,000 people.

The protest is the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s four-month-old government, which became the fourth administration since the coup in a long-running political crisis that revolves around Thaksin.

The protesters say Thaksin was wrongfully removed and Abhisit – who was appointed by parliament in December – took power illegitimately and should step aside so parliament can be dissolved ahead of fresh elections.

Protesters have accused the country’s elite – the military, judiciary and Prem’s inner circle – of interfering in politics.

More than 4,000 police were deployed in the area, where protest leaders vowed to camp for three days. Army reinforcements were on standby and authorities have urged the general public to avoid the area.

Today’s rally came after a two-week sit-in outside Abhisit’s office, which at its peak drew 30,000 protesters.

Abhisit rejected the demands for his resignation and said he planned to carry on as usual.

Thaksin, who was removed amid accusations of corruption and abuse of power, has been addressing the protests via video link from exile. He fled the country last year before a court convicted him of abuse of power and sentenced him to two years in prison.

Most of Thaksin’s supporters are from the country’s poor rural majority, who benefited from his populist policies. They are known as “the red shirts,” for their favoured attire.

The protests are the latest episode in Thailand’s long-running political turmoil, a tug-of-war between Thaksin’s supporters and opponents.

More on this topic

Eight-year-old girl killed as gunmen attack anti-government protestEight-year-old girl killed as gunmen attack anti-government protest

Thais go to the polls despite protestsThais go to the polls despite protests

Explosions at Thai protest siteExplosions at Thai protest site

Tension rises in Thailand after protesters shotTension rises in Thailand after protesters shot

More in this Section

Trump likens impeachment inquiry to ‘a lynching’Trump likens impeachment inquiry to ‘a lynching’

Jimmy Carter in hospital after fall at homeJimmy Carter in hospital after fall at home

Norwegian police open fire on man who ‘drove ambulance into crowd’, including baby in a pushchairNorwegian police open fire on man who ‘drove ambulance into crowd’, including baby in a pushchair

Manchester Arena bomber’s brother pleads not guilty to murder chargesManchester Arena bomber’s brother pleads not guilty to murder charges


A scientific study has found that the teatime treat is just as effective as shop-bought energy gels.You might want to swap your energy gels for mashed potato on your next run

We catch up with Bushmills’ master distiller, who tells Sam Wylie-Harris more about this liquid gold.Irish whiskey masterclass: 11 things you need to know

Temples, beaches, and several nations with new names.From Bhutan to Costa Rica, Lonely Planet reveals its top countries to visit in 2020

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman who’s unsure how to manage her mother’s dying wishes.Ask a counsellor: ‘Is it appropriate to notify my mother’s friends of her death by email?’

More From The Irish Examiner