Bangkok braces for renewed protests after court sacks premier

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Red Shirt supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra shout slogans during anti-government protests in Bangkok. Photo: AFP
Thailand\’s pro-government Red Shirts began massing in Bangkok on Saturday to challenge a bid by opposition protesters to install an unelected regime in power after the removal of the Prime Minister.
Earlier this week, a court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine ministers to step down. 
Yingluck was ordered to step down on Wednesday over the illegal transfer of her security chief. Another court has indicted her for negligence.
Thousands of police are on standby as opposition protesters are also planning a march in the capital.
The gathering of the pro-government supporters on Saturday came a day after anti-government protesters began laying siege to television stations and state offices to press authorities to install a non-elected Prime Minister by Monday.
Jatuporn Prompan, who heads the pro-government Red Shirts staging the rally, said on Saturday that "as long as the country\’s democracy is not safe, we will be here".
Jatuporn warned that his side would "escalate our fight immediately" if the anti-government protesters\’ demands were met. He said, however, that the Red Shirts did not "wish to see people killed or hurt along the way".
The competing rallies were being held several dozen kilometres apart, but still raised concerns about violence. Jatuporn said "each side should take care of their own supporters" and avoid confrontation. 
The constitutional court this week forced Yingluck from government for abuse of power for transferring a senior civil servant in 2011 to another position.
Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, the deputy prime minister, was named soon after as her replacement.
Yingluck dissolved the government in December after an election that was boycotted by the main opposition party, the Democrats.
A new election had been planned, but no date had been agreed with the country\’s electoral commission.
Thai military and police are reported to be stepping up efforts to prevent outbreaks of violence as pro-government supporters threaten to descend on Bangkok in coming days.
Thai police say a grenade was thrown early Thursday at the home of one of the judges of the country\’s Constitutional Court.
 
Police say no one was injured in the early morning attack, though the grenade did cause minor damage to a roof and a vehicle at the judge\’s Bangkok home. A bank and hospital were also damaged by grenades overnight.
 
Thailand\’s power struggle over the past six months has already claimed the lives of more than 20 people and left dozens injured.
Thailand has faced a power struggle since 2006, when Yingluck\’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted as prime minister by a military coup, accused of corruption and abuse of power.
Source: Agencies

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