An estimated 100,000 red-shirt protesters took to the streets of Bangkok yesterday (March 20) in a 46 kilometres (29 mile) cavalcade stretching more than 10 kilometres-long (6 miles), and which took more than nine hours between the first and last vehicle returning to the starting point.
The mass rally came on day eight of the protest by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), whose supporters are commonly called red-shirts due to their attire, a political pressure group aligned with the Pheu Thai Party (PTP), who are calling for democratic elections.
The PTP claims that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government took power illegitimately, with the support of the Thai Army and the judiciary, in 2008.
Mr Vejjajiva became Prime Minister based on a vote of the House, after the Constitutional Court dissolved the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra People’s Power Party (PPP) headed by then prime minister Somchai Wongsawat on charges of electoral fraud. The dissolution and accompanying political suspensions saw PPPs former coalition partners rush to form a new coalition with Mr Vejjajiva’s Democrat Party giving him the numbers to achieve the prime ministership.
The mass rally of trucks, cars, and motorbikes left the main red-shirt rally site at Phan Fa Lilat Bridge with leaders aboard a brightly decorated truck, garnering applause and support from early morning shoppers and shopkeepers, some of whom offered free bottles of water to those passing by.
Major arterial roads were closed off by red-shirt volunteers and “guards” to make way for the convoy, resulting in very large gatherings of supporters cheering the procession on.
While organisers were pleased by the apparent support from “Bangkokians”, it doesn’t amount for much at Bangkok ballot boxes, with a large number of ordinarily Bangkok residents being registered to vote in their home province come election time, and Thailand not having any out-of-area voting capabilities.
Red-shirts encircle Bangkok slide gallery
Photos John Le Fevre
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He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.
Opinions and views expressed on this site are those of the author’s only. Read more at About me
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