King the only hope for end to deadlock, say PAD protesters
Rally draws biggest crowd yet, but not all support call for royal intervention; leaders warn situation may turn violent
A massive crowd gathered on Bangkok's Rajdamnoen Avenue yesterday to support the People's Alliance for Democracy's (PAD) call for royal intervention to remove caretaker Premier Thaksin Shinawatra and end the political deadlock.
Meanwhile, about 200 supporters of the embattled premier went to his house on Charoen Sanitwong Road last night to show support for him.
At press time, some 700 anti-Thaksin demonstrators from Ramkamhaeng University were heading towards the Thai Rak Thai Party's headquarters on New Petchaburi Road.
At Rajdamnoen Avenue, PAD leaders read a petition to be submitted to HM the King, asking him to enforce Article 7 of the Constitution to end the political crisis and avoid possible violence.
"The situation is now deadlocked, we see no alternative to avoid violence so we would submit the petition to HM the King," PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul said. The media firebrand also called for 500,000 people to join a rally today. Protesters will meet at National Stadium and then march to Siam Paragon shopping complex, he said.
Chamlong Srimuang, a PD leader, estimated the crowd at about 300,000 people.
The alliance hopes a new caretaker premier will be appointed to oversee political reform and call a new general election.
"Long Live the King," an announcer on the stage shouted before leading protesters in a salute of HM the King and a rendition of the royal anthem, which was followed by other songs composed by the Monarch.
Legal experts, however, said royal intervention would be possible only after Thaksin resigned.
Banjerd Singkaneti of Thammasat University noted the situation was now risky and violence should be avoided.
PAD spokesperson Suriyasai Katasila said the crowds gathering underlined the fact there is widespread support for the alliance's proposal for royal intervention.
"We are now waiting and will launch a public campaign to explain why we need royal intervention," he said.
However, many protesters told The Nation they did not support the PAD's move.
"I disagree with the PAD on this since it is not a democratic way, but there is no other place to express my disapproval of Thaksin," said one protester who declined to be named.
A lawyer who asked not to be named said he only wanted to unseat Thaksin and had no idea about the call to invoke Article 7.
A group of youngsters from Nakhon Si Thammarat said they did not care who the next leader would be. "Just not Thaksin," they said emphatically. The youths said they arrived in Bangkok from their hometown on Friday to attend the Democrat Party's rally.