Thai protesters vow final showdown with government
By MICK ELMORE,Associated Press Writer AP - 1 hour 14 minutes ago
BANGKOK, Thailand - Anti-government protesters said Sunday they were massing activists in the Thai capital for their biggest rally yet in a final showdown with the government, while the military deployed soldiers to deter violence.
The protest group, which calls itself the People's Alliance for Democracy, planned to rally more than 100,000 supporters Sunday evening, but declined to give details of the rally or its timing. They were expected to try to march on Parliament overnight to disrupt a session of lawmakers the following day.
"It will be D-Day. This will be our final push to bring down the government," said protester Chokchuang Chutinaton, 64, as he and fellow protesters gathered at the Government House compound.
Alliance protesters have camped out Government House since August and are demanding that Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resign. They accuse him of being a proxy for his brother-in-law, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption and abuse of power.
The protesters have been attacked several times by small bombs and grenades, including a blast Thursday that killed one person and wounded 29, and another on Saturday that injured eight. No one took responsibility for the explosions.
The Thai military said it was deploying more than 2,000 soldiers Sunday to deter violence. Army spokesman Col. Sansern Khaewkamnerd said police would be responsible for keeping the situation under control, but that the army would be on standby in case police ask for help.
"We have prepared more than 2,000 soldiers to support them," Sansern said in telephone interview.
Police said 2,400 police would be stationed outside Parliament, which stands about a half-mile (1 kilometer) from Government House.
The last time the protesters marched on Parliament, street battles with police left two dead and hundreds wounded. Nearly 100,000 protesters were involved in the Oct. 7 events, the biggest march so far and the country's worst political violence in more than a decade.
"We expect for more than 100,000 supporters for the rally," PAD spokesman Parnthep Wongpuapan said Sunday.
The alliance, including royalists, wealthy and middle-class urban residents and union activists, say Thailand's electoral system is susceptible to vote-buying. They say the rural majority _ the Thaksin camp's power base _ is not sophisticated enough to cast ballots responsibly.
They propose replacing an elected Parliament with one that is mostly appointed, a move critics charge is meant to keep power in the hands of the educated, urban elite.
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