Students, farmers join demo action in provinces

Anti-government protesters are heading for Bangkok to join the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) marches today, while others are preparing protests in the provinces.

In the Northeast, a cluster of groups calling itself the people's council of the 20 northeastern provinces yesterday said it supported the PDRC's move to root out the so-called Thaksin regime, which it claimed was a main cause of rampant nationwide corruption.

The cluster consists of 10 groups including a group of communities in all 20 northeastern provinces, a northeastern independent academic group, a northeastern independent media group, a northeastern business group, a northeastern group of medical doctors and nurses, and a group of northeastern farmers.

The cluster yesterday began encouraging its members and allies to travel to Bangkok to join the main protest there, or to take part in anti-Thaksin Shinawatra events in the provinces.

In Phichit, a group representing rice farmers in the northern province said about 2,000 of its members would today begin blocking Pho Sai Ngam intersection on Highway 117 in Bung Na Rang district, an important section of the main road linking the North with Bangkok.

The farmers have been disappointed with the government's rice pledging scheme, in which only 20% of the money has been paid to farmers so far, said Kwanchai Kerdkhanmak, the manager of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives' Phichit branch.

In Chiang Mai, about 1,000 PDRC supporters yesterday began travelling together by bus to Bangkok, while many more were expected to make a separate trip to the capital for the mass demonstration.

Another 3,000 PDRC supporters planned to gather at Chiang Mai University today for a similar anti-Thaksin demonstration.

Several departments of the university have suspended classes today to allow their teachers and students to take part.

In Phayao, however, a group of red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) members challenged the opposition Democrat Party to announce it would dissolve itself if the party really was determined to reform politics, as it claimed.

The group's comment came after the party announced its MPs would resign en masse to step up pressure on the Pheu Thai Party-led government to step down.

"I think the Democrat MPs want to resign because they think parliament is no longer a system that helps them achieve what they desire," said Siriwat Jupamadtha, a UDD coordinator in Phayao.

Mr Siriwat said the UDD wanted the resigning Democrats to clarify whether they would later return to the election system without causing any further problems.

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