Anti-government protesters in Thailand announced their plans to hold mass rallies beginning mid-March in a bid to force parliament to dissolve and to call for new elections.
The call for new protests comes as the country waits for a Supreme Court ruling on Friday (February 26) on whether or not to seize the assets of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The Pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, or U.D.D, will protest in the capital for at least seven days. It’s expected to be their first lengthy demonstration since violent protests last April.
Hundreds of the red-shirted supporters gathered at the Bangkok news conference to hear the plan.
[Jatuporn Prompan, U.D.D. Leader]:
"Our red shirts from all parts of the country will begin to mobilize on March 12. And all the crowd flows will meet in Bangkok on March 14."
The group has vowed to bring a million Thais to the capital to topple the government within seven days.
[Jatuporn Prompan, UDD Leader]:
"The March 14 event will be the beginning of the countdown to the end of autocrats and the government."
The U.D.D. says Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's six-party coalition government is illegitimate because it was not elected by the people but put together by the army after Thaksin was ousted.
At a news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said it’s the government's duty to maintain peace and order.
[Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai Prime Minister]:
"The government will not allow any threat to affect our stability. It is a duty of the government to keep the peace and stability and we will continue to maintain the jurisdiction system."
Security forces are braced for a big turnout and a possible violent response to the court verdict due on Friday (February 26) on whether to seize $2.3 billion in assets belonging to the family of Thaksin, who was accused of abuse of power while he was in the premiership and became unusually rich.