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Thai police confront protesters in PM's compound
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The motley group of businessmen, academics and activists launched the street campaign on May 25, accusing Samak's coalition government of being an illegitimate proxy of Thaksin.

The PAD also proclaims itself to be a defender of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej against a supposed Thaksin plan to turn Thailand into a republic -- a charge vehemently denied by both Thaksin and the government.

Shares turn lower

The group have barricaded themselves in the 11-acre compound behind razor wire and car tyres, with sentries armed with bars and golf clubs and a mix of gasoline and shampoo poured across the road, turning it into an ice-rink.

At the barricades, PAD supporters held aloft pictures of King Bhumibol, shouting "We love the King. We love Thailand". Inside the compound, thousands sat on plastic sheeting, clapping and cheering speeches by the group's leaders.

Thailand's stock market turned lower after the riot police moved in, losing 1 percent by mid-afternoon on a day when most regional bourses were higher.

Thai shares have fallen 23 percent since the street campaign began in May amid fears of everything from policy paralysis at a time of stuttering economic growth to bloodshed on the streets.

Analysts said the standoff was likely to drag on as the government was clearly avoiding a violent confrontation that could prompt the military to intervene.

Army commanders have pledged to stay in their barracks for now, but Samak faced new pressure as protesters blockaded two airports in the south and state rail workers began a strike that halted 15 percent of services nationwide, a spokesman said.

"They have sat down to stop vehicles moving in and out of the Phuket airport," Lieutenant General Tani Twidsi, head of the southern police, told Reuters by telephone.

(China Daily August 30, 2008)

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