Thai Protesters Shut Down Bangkok Business District

Weekend shopping in Bangkok was cut short after thousands of “Red Shirts” protesters descended on the capital’s business district to demand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve the Thai government and call for new parliamentary elections. Malls were forced to close on Saturday as the protests by forces sympathetic to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra entered the fourth week.

The protesters, mostly poor rural area dwellers, have vowed not to leave the business district until Abhisit gives in to their demands. The government has opened negotiation lines after its call for the protesters to leave was ignored. Metropolitan police spokesman Piya Utayo said about 10,000 protesters are gathered in the business district. More than ten shopping malls and other establishments were closed for security reasons, he added.

Thaksin, who was ousted by a military backed coup in 2006, urged the “Red Shirts” to persevere, saying that “victory is just around the corner.”