Suthep resigns to head up civil disobedience

Suthep resigns to head up civil disobedience

Calls for 3-day general strike across country

Suthep Thaugsuban, Democrat MP for Surat Thani and leader of the anti-government rally at the Democracy Monument, yesterday announced his resignation as an MP, along with eight colleagues, to lead protests against the blanket amnesty bill.

Protesters at the Democracy Monument blow whistles after Suthep Thaugsuban, and eight other Democrat Party MPs resigned yesterday. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

He also called for nationwide work stoppages and delaying paying taxes as part of a sweeping campaign of civil disobedience against the government.

Mr Suthep made the announcement about 6.30pm yesterday to the applause of tens of thousands of demonstrators at the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

The sheer number of anti-government protesters who turned up yesterday in Bangkok filled almost the entire stretch of Ratchadamnoen Avenue from Victory Monument, Phan Fa Bridge and Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge.

Mr Suthep claimed the number of protesters came to 100,000 though Bangkok Post reporters on the scene said the figure was likely around 60,000.

The eight other Democrat MPs who will also resign from the House are Songkhla MP Thaworn Senneam, Trang MP Sathit Wongnongtoey, list MP Issara Somchai, Nakhon Si Thammarat Witthaya Kaewparadai, Chumphon MP Chumpol Pholsai, Bangkok MP Phutthipong Punnakan, Bangkok MP Ekkanat Prompan, and Bangkok MP Nataphol Teepsuwan.

Mr Suthep said protest leaders had agreed they will escalate their demonstrations by urging civil disobedience nationwide, including four measures.

He urged employees at private companies and government officials to stop working between tomorrow and Friday and join the demonstrations at the protest venues in their respective provinces, or at least to slow down the pace of their work.

He also called on teachers to cancel classes and students not to attend them at schools and universities nationwide during the three-day period.

Mr Suthep asked private companies to delay paying taxes and for companies to fly national flags at their offices, and for people to carry national flags and whistles wherever they go in a symbolic fight against the government.

As for the fourth measure, Mr Suthep said that if people meet Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, her cabinet ministers and their "sidekicks", they must refuse to talk to them and blow their whistles at them instead.

Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok said it was the right of every protester to engage in civil disobedience but was confident the government would handle it.

Bangkok was also rocked by scattered rallies yesterday as part of an escalating campaign by anti-government groups to topple the government.

The protesters' demands have gone beyond getting rid of the blanket amnesty bill from parliament, which was the original aim and triggered widespread protests. They now want to oust the government itself.

Starting around 10am, protesters gathered at four venues in downtown Bangkok _ Silom, Asok, Soi Ari and Ratchadaphisek.

Around 5,000 people joined the Silom protest led by Tul Sittisomwong, 4,000 at the Asok protest led by Somkiat Homla-or, 2,000 at Soi Ari led by Kwanjai Santisuk, and around 700 at the Ratchadaphisek protest, which had no clear leader.

The four protest groups held a brief whistle-blowing session at 12.34pm as a symbolic gesture of defiance against the government and started marching from their rally sites heading to Ratchadamnoen Avenue, where five other anti-government groups were rallying.

"Get out, get out," they shouted as they moved along the route.

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