From Straits Times – November 26, 2013 | Thanks to Golden Age of Gaia.
BANGKOK (AFP/AP) – Thai opposition protesters on Tuesday besieged several more government ministries as part of their efforts to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, according to a government minister and AFP reporters.
“We have to leave because they (the protesters) will cut the utilities,” Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak told AFP, adding that the transport and agriculture ministries were also surrounded.
Demonstrators also gave officials at the Interior Ministry an ultimatum to leave within one hour, threatening to “close the ministry”, according to an AFP reporter at the scene, a day after they occupied the finance and foreign ministries.
The protesters vowed on Tuesday to take control of state offices nationwide in their bid to oust Ms Yingluck, escalating the biggest challenge she has faced since taking office.
Opposition-led protesters camped out overnight at the Finance and Foreign Ministries after storming their gates during a chaotic day of street rallies Monday. Both were closed Tuesday, along with the Agriculture Ministry, which told employees not to come to work to avoid nearby street protests in Bangkok.
Protesters say they want Ms Yingluck, who took office in 2011, to step down amid claims her government is controlled by her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006 for alleged corruption.
On Sunday, more than 100,000 demonstrators took to Bangkok’s streets, uniting against what they call the “Thaksin regime.”
The occupation of the ministry offices has raised fears of violence and worries that Thailand is entering a new chapter of political instability. They also recall previous protests against Thaksin and his allies in 2008, when protesters occupied and shut down the prime minister’s office for three months.
On Tuesday, the main protest group appeared to have converted the Finance Ministry into its headquarters, and even declared Tuesday a “rest day”.
“Tomorrow there will be a nationwide movement,” Mr Akanat Promphan, a protest spokesman told reporters inside the emptied Finance Ministry. He said the aim is to paralyze government operations by seizing offices and state agencies so they cannot be “used as a mechanism for the Thaksin regime”.
Separately on Tuesday, the opposition Democrat Party, which is spearheading the protests, launched a parliamentary no-confidence debate against Ms Yingluck. The vote has no chance of unseating Ms Yingluck as her ruling Pheu Thai party controls the House of Representatives.
Ms Yingluck called for calm and offered to negotiate with protest leaders. “If we can talk, I believe the country will return to normal,” she said.