BANGKOK, April 5 – Thousands of government supporters from United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) or the Red Shirts gathered on a main road at the outskirt of Bangkok to begin a rally in support of embattled caretaker government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The a three-day rally in western Bangkok is just a rehearsal for a longer rally after middle of the month.
The Red Shirts leader Jutuporn Prompan said his group wants to express their stance protecting democracy, particularly the premiership. He said it is unacceptable to have a prime minister who was not elected into office via an election. It was a clear reference to anti-government calls for Yingluck to step down and replaced with a neutral prime minister to implement reform and then hold a general election. “We don’t want outside interference to change the prime minister in an undemocratic way, so we express our stand today. We expect 500,000 people for the (later) three-day rally,” Jatuporn added.
It is certainly a boost for Yingluck’s political career which is on the line with the National Anti-Corruption Commission considering whether to impeach her or not in relation to a troubled rice subsidy scheme. The rally was held under tight security with 3,000 policemen and around 400 soldiers protecting the rally site, Utthayan Road in Nakornpraton province. Security is an issue due to strong statements made in the past by both sides and recently there have been some attacks on anti-government protesters. However, deputy police chief Worapong Chewpreecha is not worried about a possible confrontation between the pro-government Red Shirts and anti-government protesters as their rally sites are quite far from each other.