Skip to main content

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters march in Bangkok

By Kocha Olarn, CNN
updated 11:51 AM EST, Sun December 22, 2013
Thai anti-government protesters wave national flags as they rally in Bangkok on December 22.
Thai anti-government protesters wave national flags as they rally in Bangkok on December 22.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Protest leader calls for demonstration at site where election candidates will register
  • Protesters surrounded the home of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
  • PM has called for February 2 elections, main opposition party says it will boycott
  • Protesters have occupied various government offices in the last few weeks

Bangkok (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Thailand's capital Sunday, some surrounding the home of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whom they want to oust.

An estimated 90,000 protesters were marching in Bangkok, Lt. Gen. Paradon Patthanathabut, Thailand's national security chief, told CNN. He said that number rose to 150,000 at the peak of the rally in the late afternoon.

He earlier said 10,000 had surrounded the premier's home while she tours the northeast provinces. The demonstration there was later disbanded.

In a bid to cool tensions, Shinawatra dissolved the nation's parliament earlier this month and called for new elections, to be held on February 2.

But the move has done little to appease anti-government protesters, who remained on the streets by the thousands.

Thailand protesters want PM to quit

The main opposition party, the Democrat Party, has said it will boycott the polls.

Speaking on one of the main stages set up at the rally, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban asked demonstrators to surround a sports complex where candidates seeking to put themselves forward for the election will have to register their names.

Candidates have from Monday to Friday to do so.

Security beefed up

Security at the complex was being stepped up ahead of the start of registration, Paradon said, but he could not give figures.

During the weeks of demonstrations, protesters have occupied various government offices. The rallies have been mostly peaceful, but there have also been deadly clashes between protesters and government supporters.

Protest leaders have said they want to rid Thailand of the influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the older brother of Yingluck.

That's an ambitious goal in a country where every election since 2001 has been won by parties affiliated with Thaksin, who built his political success on populist policies that appealed to Thailand's rural heartland.

Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and has spent most of the time since then in exile overseas. If he returns, he risks a two-year prison sentence on a corruption conviction, which he says was politically motivated.

The current protests in Bangkok were prompted by a botched attempt by Yingluck Shinawatra's government to pass an amnesty bill that would have opened the door for her brother's return.

That move added fuel for critics who accuse her of being nothing more than her brother's puppet, an allegation she has repeatedly denied.

CNN's Marie-Louise Gumuchian contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT