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Thaksin supporters to hold huge antigov't protest in mid-March.

BANGKOK, Feb. 24 Kyodo

Supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Wednesday they will hold a huge antigovernment rally in Bangkok on March 14, with 1 million people streaming to the capital from across the country.

Vira Musikapong, a core leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, told a press conference that pro-Thaksin Red Shirt activists will start traveling to Bangkok on March 12.

Vira said this show of force is intended to put pressure on the government to dissolve parliament and hold fresh elections.

He insisted that the campaign is not related to the Supreme Court's ruling on Friday on the legality of Thaksin's $2.2 billion assets.

''We want to make it clear that we will topple the undemocratic government...nothing to do with Thaksin's assets,'' he said.

But Vira said the United Front leadership is in no position to stop Red Shirt activists from going to the Supreme Court on Friday.

Another United Front leader, Nattawut Sai-kua, said he believes the United Front can overthrow the government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva through the sheer strength of the Red Shirt protest in early March.

''I don't think the government can continue to work if more than 1 million people put pressure on them...If the Abhsit government still refuses to leave in one, two or three days, we will find other methods (to overthrow it),'' Nattawut said.

Nattawut said the United Front leadership will try to control the protesters and stage the rally peacefully.

Thai authorities have already deployed police and soldiers in Bangkok and other provinces to prevent unrest surrounding the Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions is scheduled to issue a ruling Friday on whether to seize Thaksin's 76 billion baht (about $2.2 billion) in assets frozen in Thai bank accounts.

Thaksin, who is now living abroad, posted a message on his blog Wednesday telling his supporters, ''Don't ask for mercy from your enemy.''

Thaksin's comment came after his offer to talk with the government was rejected by Abhisit.

Abhisit has ruled out talks with Thaksin unless he accepts government-imposed conditions, including his return to Thailand to serve a court-imposed sentence.

Thaksin, who was toppled by a military coup in September 2006, was sentenced to two years in jail in 2008 for abuse of power and corruption.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Mar 1, 2010
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