Protests block Bangkok parliament for “final show down”
Parliamentarians were set to discuss constitutional changes in favour of Thaksin. An estimated 18 thousand opposition supporters challenge police. 10 thousand government supporters on their way.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - Thousands of demonstrators have occupied the parliament in the capital.  They have threatened to take over other government buildings and even the airport in what they describe as the “final show down” to force the current administration out of office.  They accuse the government of being too close to ex Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, exiled to London following a 2006 military coup.

At least 18 thousand members of the opposition (the PAD, People's Alliance for Democracy) blocked all entrances to the parliament where this morning at 9.30 local time constitutional changes in favour of Thaksin were to have been discussed.  Thousands of police in riot gear have been deployed to control the situation and there are fears of violent clashes, even if the police have denied they are carrying weapons and the opposition claims to want a “non violent” protest.  The opposition has occupied some government buildings for over three months.  October last two people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes between police and demonstrators following the opening of parliament.

The opposition is primarily formed by the middle class, academics and students, who hold the new government, elected by the majority December last, to be too close to Thaksin. Premier Somchai Wongsawat is Thaksin’s brother in law.

Police report that at least 10 thousand Thaksin supporters are making their way to Bangkok and are gathering in Buddhist temples in the suburbs in a show of support for the government.  The opposition accuses Thaksin’s PPP (People Power Party) of winning the election through vote rigging and fraud, by manipulating poor farmers, who they believe are too naive to fully comprehend the elections.

Meanwhile public sector unions have announced a general strike for tomorrow, is Somchai fails to step down.  The political crisis is gravely affecting the national economy, already strained by the global recession.  Many foreign companies have already slashed production and jobs.