Bangkok endures second day of shutdown over protests against prime minister
Junctions blocked and banks closed by demonstrators seeking to overthrow Yingluck Shinawatra
Anti-government protesters occupy a major intersection in downtown Bangkok on the second day of a shutdown of the Thai capital. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Key junctions remained blocked by whistle-blowing demonstrators, major shopping malls closed early and 134 bank branches were forced to close.
However, key thoroughfares, the Skytrain urban rail and the airports remain open in this city of 12 million people and schools were also due to start teaching again.
The demonstrators are largely composed of pro-monarchist Bangkok middle-class residents, led by a former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban. The protesters want Yingluck’s administration replaced by an unelected “people’s council”. They believe Yingluck’s government is controlled by her brother, the exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who faces jail for corruption if he returns. Thaksin was toppled by the army in a military coup in 2006.
“We are tired of Thaksin buying votes. We need reform, for Thailand’s sake,” said one protester in Sukhumvit.
The opposition insist his family have effectively bought all elections since 2001 by giving cash and incentives to their core vote in northern Thailand and in rural areas. Protesters have even threatened to detain the PM if she doesn’t resign.
“If they are still being obstinate, then we will capture them one by one because the people are not interested in fighting for years,” one said.
Yingluck said she would not quit despite the deadlock. She has tried to defuse the latest round of unrest by dissolving parliament and calling for new elections on February 2nd.
Yingluck said all sides need to discuss reform because “the country is in pain and the people are suffering”.
At least eight people have been killed and hundreds injured since the latest unrest began in November.