Defiant Thai Protesters Besiege More Ministries Despite Government Clampdown

Thousands of protesters have surrounded Thailand’s Interior Ministry and forced the evacuation of four others in an escalating campaign to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, despite warrant for arrest of top protest leader issued by Thai court.

The demonstrators continued their defiance on Tuesday of a tough security law imposed late on Monday, after they stormed other ministries, to control rallies against Yingluck and her billionaire brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Demonstrators targeted the tourism, transport, foreign and agriculture ministries on Tuesday, one day after swarming the finance and foreign ministries in the biggest street protests since the country’s 2010 military crackdown.

Thailand’s prime minister appealed for an end to “mob rule” as she prepared for a pivotal no-confidence vote in parliament.

Protests have been fuelled by claims Yingluck’s government is controlled by her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006 for alleged corruption.

The police presence in Bangkok has grown in response to the expansion late Monday of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which gives authorities additional powers to block routes, impose a curfew, ban gatherings and carry out searches, although peaceful rallies are still allowed.

About 200 anti-government protesters camped out overnight at the finance ministry after Yingluck Shinawatra invoked the emergency law.

“We have told protesters that after the ISA was invoked across Bangkok, they are violating the law by trespassing in ministries,” said Paradorn Pattanatabut, chief of the National Security Council.

MPs are due to begin debating a no-confidence motion on Tuesday, which was put forward by the opposition last week as part of a barrage of legal and institutional challenges to Yingluck Shinawatra’s embattled government.

The recent protests were sparked by ruling party plans to introduce an amnesty that could have allowed the return from self-imposed exile of Thaksin Shinawatra, a deeply polarising figure who remains a populist hero among the poor.

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