Anti-government protesters massed around Thailand on Friday ahead of a march they hope will paralyze the capital and force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to call new elections. Authorities mobilized 50,000 security officers and set up checkpoints around Bangkok.
Several schools closed in Bangkok and foreigners were advised by over 30 embassies and the Tourism Authority of Thailand to stay away from the protests, as Thailand braced for violence in the latest chapter of a four-year political crisis , The Associated Press reports.
At Lak Si, on the edge of Bangkok, about 2,000 UPD protesters, known as Redshirts, stood in the sun, waving their plastic handclappers as they waited to start the protest, which has been organised to protest the ruling by the Thai Supreme Court last month to freeze most of the assets - valued at 76 billion baht (£1.52 billion) - of Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister.
Mam Angkana, a self-employed health food saleswoman said the huge rally planned for cenral Bangkok on Sunday would show the world exactly how much the current Thai Government is despised by ordinary Thais.
"I don't love this Government," Ms Angkana said, adding that it had done nothing for Thailand's poor. "I don't love this Prime Minister," Times Online reports.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has cancelled a trip to Australia that clashed with the rally and a harsh security law has been invoked, which allows the government to call out troops, impose curfews and limit movements.
Thirty-three countries have issued some form of warning to visitors to the kingdom because of the protests, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
"Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. You should exercise caution at all times," the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said on its website, AFP reports.