Red and yellow shirts protest separately in Bangkok

Saturday September 19

BANGKOK: Thailand's infamous red and the yellow shirted protesters rallied 560km apart Saturday, one marking the third anniversary of the coup that ousted their leader while another clashed with local villagers along the border with Cambodia.

Several thousand red shirted supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) braved heavy rain at the Royal Plaza near Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's office to demand an end to his 10-month military-backed government.

The gathering, watched closely by thousands of anti-riot policemen and baton-wielding soldiers guarding Abhisit's house and key government facilities, was to mark the Sept 19, 2006 ouster of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

"We are here to fight for democracy, the right of the people and we want Abhisit to hand over the power to the people. We are not here to create violence," UDD leader Veera Musigapong said as military and government officials dismissed talks of another coup.

Thaksin's allies won the December 2007 election called by the then military junta, but six months of antigovernment protests by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) last year resulted in the downfall of his two handpicked prime ministers.

Abhisit, leader of Democrat, secured enough support from smaller parties in Parliament to form a new government and remained the Kingdom's fifth premier in four years, despite conflict with military and coalition partners, as well as within his party.

The government has invoked the Internal Security Act to deal with the protesters, but the real drama unfolded in Si Sa Ket province bordering Cambodia, where thousands of yellow shirt supporters are trying to move to the controversial Preah Vihear ancient temple.

Local media reported that about 4,000 protesters in more than 500 buses, vans and pickups had arrived at the province to march to the Khao Phra Viharn national park where the temple is located.

The report said several hundred local villagers, unhappy with the planned protest, clashed with the yellow shirt supporters as police moved in to disperse the crowd.

The PAD, which blocked Bangkok's two major airports last November and seized the prime minister's office for three months, wants the Cambodian Government to withdraw troops from the disputed area.

Despite the 1962 decision by the International Court of Justice to award the temple to Cambodia, troops from both countries had clashed several times in recent months over the overlapping boundaries. - Bernama

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