UK & World News

  • 3 December 2013, 9:55

Thailand: Protesters Enter Govt Headquarters

Anti-government protesters in Thailand have broken through a gate and made their way into the prime minister's office compound as police stood by and watched.

Hundreds of demonstrators poured on to the lawn of Government House in Bangkok, waving Thai flags and blowing whistles.

At the time, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatrawas not inside her office, which has been locked since Friday.

Police had lifted barriers to allow demonstrators into the headquarters - in a dramatic reduction of security for the symbolic seat of government power.

Officers were ordered to stand down on Tuesday to avoid more violence after three days of clashes with protesters who want to topple her administration.

At least three people have been killed and more than 230 injured in the unrest since Saturday.

The unexpected reversal of strategy suggests the government no longer wants to confront the protesters and was willing to compromise to ease tensions ahead of the revered Thai king's 86th birthday on Thursday.

The demonstrators, who are mostly middle-class Bangkok supporters of the opposition Democrat Party, accuse Ms Yingluck of being a proxy for her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

He was deposed in a 2006 military coup but remains central to Thailand's political crisis.

The protesters say their goal is to drive out the political machine of Mr Thaksin, who is accused of widespread corruption and abuse of power.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said he will continue the fight to oust the prime minister, despite the government's decision not to confront protesters.

"Today we won a partial victory but we will fight on until the Thaksin regime has been driven out," he said.

As the protesters stormed her office, MsYingluckwas shown on TV rehearsing for an official event marking the king's birthday. She was seen talking to the army chief about 100 miles south of Bangkok.

Officers earlier used cranes to remove concrete slabs and barbed wire barricades on a nearby road leading to the police HQ after agreeing to let the protesters into the building.

Government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said: "The protesters said they want to seize government buildings, but the government doesn't want to see any fighting or confrontation so we've ordered the police to back off.

"We want to avoid violence and confrontation."

On Monday, the protest leader had vowed to escalate his campaign to topple the government.

He ordered his followers to storm Bangkok's police HQ after they fought all day with riot police protecting heavily barricaded key buildings.