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Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Monday, 5 April 2010 15:45 UK

Thai red-shirt protesters blockade Bangkok shops

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The protesters storm the Election Commission building

Anti-government protesters shut down Bangkok's shopping district for a third day and stormed an election office, as Thailand's political impasse continued.

The protesters, known as the red-shirts, are calling for the government to step down and hold fresh elections.

They have been demonstrating in the Thai capital for almost a month and over the weekend moved their protest to its commercial hub.

A government request for a court eviction order has been turned down.

The court ruled that the government already had the power to evict the protesters under the emergency security laws it has imposed.

The protesters say they will not move until their demands are met and, says the BBC's South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey, their tactics are becoming increasingly bold and provocative.

Court order

On Saturday the red-shirts moved their main camp from the historic old part of Bangkok to the city's wealthy, commercial heart.

Many have been sleeping on mats outside five-star hotels and shopping centres, forcing businesses to close and lose money.

On Monday, as the stand-off continued, about 100 protesters forced their way into the Election Commission building.

The red-shirts accuse election officials of delaying an investigation into alleged irregularities involving the party of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The demonstrators dispersed after being given an assurance that the case would be addressed later this month.

No violence was reported but the move raised fears that the protests - which have been peaceful so far - could turn ugly.

The government has declared the rally in the commercial district illegal. Under special security laws, the protesters have also been barred from entering or blocking 11 major routes which run through Bangkok.

But the red-shirts remain defiant; they say that they will stay in central Bangkok and fan out to occupy more locations.

A Bangkok court says that the government has the power to evict them; our correspondent says that the question, then, is when and how the authorities might choose to exercise that power.


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