06/20/2008, 00.00
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Anti-government demonstrations in militarised Bangkok

The People's Alliance for Democracy leads 8,000 people into the streets, against the 100,000 announced. Demonstrators are asking for the resignation of prime minister Samak, a "tool" of controversial former prime minister Thaksin.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Thousands of people, but fewer than expected, took to the streets of Bangkok today to call for the resignation of prime minister Samak Sundaravej, accused of being a tool in the hands of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.  The authorities have deployed massive security measures: thousands of policemen guarded the streets around government buildings.

The anti-government campaign - underway since the end of May, and led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) - has increased tensions in the country, already in the grip of economic crisis and strong inflation.  There were about 8,000 demonstrators, many fewer than the 100,000 expected by organisers.  According to analysts in Thailand, today's demonstration brought to light the meagre support for the PAD among the population.  The group is mainly composed of middle-class citizens living in the capital.

The People Power Party of prime minister Samak - made up of Thaksin's allies - won the elections last December, which marked the Asian country's return to democracy.  In 2006, a bloody state coup deposed prime minister Thaksin, accused of corruption and misgovernment.  The coup was preceded by protests similar to today's, but with much larger crowds.  Since then, Thaksin, a telecommunications magnate, has been banned from political activity, but still enjoys widespread support in rural areas.

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