(23 November) The police said they are prepared for a major show of force by the anti-government protesters in Bangkok tomorrow – the date promised by the protest leaders to be the final push to overthrow the government.
After nearly a month camping on the stretches of Ratchadamnoen Avenue, the anti-government protesters, led by prominent members of Democrat Party, are calling for their biggest yet rally on 24 November.
The protesters have been calling for an "overthrow" of "Thaksin Regime", a term referring to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra which its critics has accused of being puppets of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
Although it is highly unlikely that the total number of the protesters will reach one million as announced by the protest leader, Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, senior police officers are expecting at least 70,000 people to join the protests. In previous weeks, it has been estimated that 50,000 people joined the protests at the peak of their strength.
Pol.Maj.Gen. Piya Uthayo, spokesman of the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), said the number would rise dramatically tomorrow due to mobilisation of anti-government protesters from various provinces into Bangkok.
He also expressed fear that the protesters will violently confront with police officers posted around governmental districts, which are currently off-limit to pedestrians and traffic following the enactment of Internal Security Act.
"Our intelligence services have reported that the protesters will move to many important buildings at the same time on 25 November," said Pol.Maj.Gen. Piya, adding that the police have prepared rapid-moving forces to maintain public order throughout the protests.
The spokesman warned that the police would "respond strictly under legal procedures" to the protesters if the protests violate any laws or turn violent, but stressed that the police forces have been instructed to stick to peaceful methods in dealing with the protesters.
A number of governmental officials also appear to be wary of the protesters adopting aggressive tactics seen in the 2008 Yellowshirts protests against Thaksin-allied governments, in which Government House, the state TV station, and Bangkok′s two main airports were seized by the protesters.
While much of the protests has been focused on the Ratchadamnoen Avenue, there have been instances of protesters marching out to other areas in recent days, raising fear that the anti-government protesters are contemplating a large-scale demonstration to put pressure on the government.
Yesterday members of People and Student Network for Political Reform of Thailand have marched to headquarters of Pheu Thai Party, where they briefly blew their whistles in defiance to the party before dispersing peacefully.
Later, however, they moved to block the busy intersection of Nang Loeng, just a block away from Government House, causing massive traffic jam in the Friday rush hour of Bangkok. The protesters have so far refused to negotiate with the police, who demanded that they disperse and return the intersection to traffic.
Responding to the anti-government protesters? call for ?Day of Judgment?, the Redshirts have vowed to stage a mass rally at Rajamangala Stadium tomorrow to show their support for the government.
The Redshirts have previously rallied at the stadium earlier this week when the Constitutional Court struck down the attempt of the ruling Pheu Thai Party to amend the 2007 Constitution.
"The rally of the group who is intent on overthrowing the elected government will prove to history which side the Thai society will choose: the backward conservative force, or the progressive democratic force" said Ms. Thida Tojirakarn, chairwoman of the Redshirts? official organisation.
Pol.Maj.Gen. Piya, the spokesman of CAPO, said the police will do their best to avoid confrontation between the two rival protests.