UK & World News
Thai Protests: Tourists Flee On Night Buses
Tens of thousands of anti-government protestors are flooding into the Thai capital, Bangkok, blocking major highways and intersections with their vehicles.
As determined demonstrators gather for the final push to drive caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office, the tourists are fleeing - hundreds queuing for the night buses which will take them out of the capital to other locations.
In the Khaosan backpacker area of Bangkok, foreign visitors have been isolated in a tiny oasis of normality for weeks.
Demonstrator numbers have grown from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands around the city's Democracy Monument, just one street away.
Now the protestors are on the move - to occupy seven key traffic intersections in Bangkok indefinitely, in a bid to "shut down" the city.
As well as blocking highways with cars the protestors are laying their roll mats or pitching their tents across once busy and now deserted roads.
The leader of the anti-government protestors, Suthep Thaugsuban, insists they will stage peaceful sit-ins to bring the city, and Thai politics, to a "dead end".
He says the caretaker prime minister will then have no option but to resign.
Mr Thaugsuban's People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) is intent on preventing the snap election Yingluck Shinawatra has called for on February 2.
It wants to establish a Reform Council to "shake-up" Thai politics.
Thailand's Electoral Commission has already warned the caretaker government that a successful election is unlikely, and recommended a postponement.
With just three weeks to go until polling day, not a single candidate has been registered in 28 constituencies in eight southern provinces.
All of the opposition Democrat Party MPs have announced they will not run.
For a new Thai parliament to be legitimate, 95% of 500 MPs must attend the first session, but it is unlikely there will be 500 MPs.
The caretaker government has accused the Election Committee of not organising the election properly.
Yingluck Shinawatra has promised the authorities will not use force against the protestors.
But the Centre for Administration for Peace and Order (CAPO) has drawn a line in the sand at the eleventh hour.
It states that nobody is to enter any government offices, or any of the seven planned demonstration sites.
This advisory was distributed after thousands of protestors had already taken up position around the caretaker prime minister's home, in the government complex.
They were also across roads and at public transport entrances at three of the seven published sites.
So far Thailand's Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha has given only enigmatic replies to questions asking if the military will stage a coup to restore order in the event of violence.
The tension is palpable in both the anti-government and pro-government camps.
Groups of men with homemade sharpened bamboo sticks, and stone-tipped axes and machetes, merge with anti-government protestors armed only with colourful plastic clappy hands.
PDRC security men, all in black with their faces obscured by balaclavas, search everyone trying to enter the demonstration areas.
This weekend there was another attack on anti-government protestors in which seven people were injured by gunfire.
The protestors promised they wouldn't prevent access to the monorail elevated public transport system.
But as the new phase of the demonstrations has got underway, they have sealed off the access walkways; they claim out of fear that they will be used by pro-government gunmen as vantage points to fire down into the crowd.
Protestors also promised they would not target the city's two international airports.
But photographs are circulating on Twitter of anti-government protestors blocking access to the airport trains into the city, inside Suvarnabhumi airport.
Thailand has long been called the "Teflon" Economy because it has come through so many upheavals in the past few years, apparently without lasting damage to its prospects.
But now with international airlines drastically cutting their flights into the country due to falling demand, and not a single private jet on the runway at Don Muang Airport, a situation never seen before, concerns are growing over the impact of these latest demonstrations, and the ramifications of a protest which could stretch on for days, or even weeks, in the Thai capital.
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