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World Briefing / Thailand

Former prime minister's backers take to streets

March 27, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Supporters of former leader Thaksin Shinawatra surrounded the main government office to demand the administration's dissolution, drawing tens of thousands to a boisterous rally and clearing police barricades with construction cranes.

The new burst of turmoil, which plagued Thailand through most of last year, came as the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva grappled with the country's worst economic crisis in a decade.

The demonstration by about 30,000 Thaksin loyalists started shortly after the government began handing out $55 checks to millions of low-income Thais to stimulate an export-dependent economy battered by loss of global markets.

While many scooped up the checks and rushed off to department stores or banks, the protesters derided the handouts as a poor imitation of Thaksin's populist policies.

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