04/08/2009, 00.00
THAILAND
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In Bangkok tens of thousands demand PM Abhisit quit

Pro-Thaksin activists accuse current prime minister of coming to power “illegally” and being a puppet in the hands of the military. PM rejects calls for his resignation, pledges not to use force against protesters. Market shares lose as a result of fear of renewed violence.
Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered in the Thai capital, Bangkok, in a fresh bid to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva out of office. Mr Abhisit, who has rejected such a demand, has pledged never the less that “there will be no use of force” to end the protest.

Since 26 March the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) has been promoting a campaign against the government.

For today campaign promoters expect as many as 300,000 demonstrators to show up. So far early this afternoon, around 50,000 demonstrators are actually in front of Government House in what protest organisers consider their “D-Day” against Mr Abhisit whom they accuse of taking power illegally, and being a puppet of the military.

This confrontation marks once again a deep division between Mr Thaksin's followers, found largely in the countryside and among the urban poor, and Abhisit’s supporters in the military and the middle class.

The current prime minister came to power last December after the Constitutional Court ordered the dissolution of the then ruling People’s Power Party for corruption.

In the months leading up to that moment the country’s two main airports were shut down by street protests.

Clashes last October also left two demonstrators dead and 443 wounded.

The prospect of renewed violence has added to the concerns of the stock market.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index (SETI), which was down 0.9 per cent at the mid-session break, has already lost 2.5 per cent this year, in contrast to the incipient recovery seen on many other Asian markets.

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