An estimated 40,000 people had gathered for the stadium rally
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has given an emotional address by phone to tens of thousands of supporters at a rally in Bangkok.
The rally was aimed at demonstrating the continuing popularity of Mr Thaksin, who has been living in exile since August after a court verdict.
He was convicted in absentia of breaking conflict of interest rules.
Mr Thaksin accused his opponents of destroying democracy in order to keep him out of power.
Saturday's rally was a well organised show of strength by the Thaksin camp, reminiscent of the slick campaigns that helped the former prime minister win three successive elections, the BBC's Jonathan Head reports from the rally.
The aim, said the organisers, was to demonstrate popular support for the Thaksin-inspired government, at a time when it is under pressure to step down from the People's Alliance for Democracy protest movement, which has been occupying the prime minister's office since August.
'Miss you all'
Dressed in a sea of red shirts, to distinguish them from their yellow-shirted opponents, many had travelled long distances to the rally from the north and north-east, where the government has its strongest following, but there were many from Bangkok as well.
Thaksin's emotional address
The highlight of the evening, our correspondent says, was when a surprise guest addressed the crowd: Mr Thaksin, on the phone presumably from Britain, where he has been living since August.
"I want to return but I can't, although I miss you all," said the exiled politician, who faces a two-year prison sentence in Thailand.
"If we can't uphold democracy and rid the country of dictatorship, the chances of our country returning to a peaceful state are slim."
Two years after being ousted by a military coup, Mr Thaksin is still the star attraction of his party, our correspondent says.
Many at the rally were in tears as he told them his opponents were destroying democracy and tearing up his policies, just to keep him out of power.
This was a calculated show of strength by his followers, after two months in which the PAD has monopolised media attention in the capital, our correspondent says.
The crowd was far larger than any the PAD has managed to attract and there were warnings from some there that the country could split or descend into civil war if there was another military coup.
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