Tens of thousands protesters have rallied outside Thailand's government house
in a bid to force Prime Minister Samak Sundarvej from office. As Ron Corben
reports from Bangkok, protesters pushed their way into the compound surrounding
the building and early in the day also entered the studios of a state
broadcaster and temporarily halted transmission.
An alliance of anti-government
groups organized Tuesday's rally, bringing tens of thousands of people onto
roads surrounding the Thai government's administration building. Protesters say
they plan to blockade other key government buildings.
They demand that
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej stand down. They accuse his government of
corruption and say he is merely a stand-in for former Prime Minister Thakshin
There have been smaller protests nearly every day for three
months. Opposition leaders called for massive rally for what they call D-Day to
pressure Mr. Samak's seven-month-old administration to resign.
Nanthana has tended many of the protests.
"We don't want the Samak
government because he's very corrupted and he is a nominee from the Thaksin
government," Khun said. "Thaksin is not really gone - he's a billionaire - he
exploited Thailand and took everything, and he's got lots o money so he can pull
Mr. Thaksin held office from 2001 to 2006, when he was ousted
in a military coup after being accused of abusing his power. He faces several
court cases on corruption charges. Earlier this month he fled to Britain, saying
he could not get a fair trial. Mr. Thaksin denies any wrongdoing.
Earlier Tuesday, up to 80 armed men, claiming they were anti-government
activists, broke into the studios of a state television broadcaster and
temporarily disrupted broadcasts. While rally protesters cheered news of the
incident, it is not clear who organized it.
Police made several arrests
at the television station but the overall police presence has been modest,
apparently as the government seeks to avoid violence.
Chum Lelayuwa, an
advertising industry executive, says many people are attending the rally to
literally "blow the whistle" on corruption.
"People blow the whistle - we
blow the whistle now," Chum said. "We send a signal to all the Thai people that
the government [is] no longer legal. He's [Mr. Samak] got to go
Protest organizers were expecting as many as 300,000 to attend the
rally over the length of the day, although around midday, police estimated the
crowd was around 30,000.
Thailand has been wracked by political divisions
for nearly four years, as the Thai middle class turned against Mr. Thaksin.
But Mr. Thaksin remains a popular figure among the urban and rural poor
largely thanks to his plans cheap health care and low-cost loans for village
projects. Mr. Samak's government has maintained many of these
The rally led to share prices tumbling on the Thai stock
exchange in early trading.