Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Sunday, 18 April 2010 13:58 UK

Thailand faces threat of yellow-shirt counter-protest

The Peoples' Alliance for Democracy meets in Bangkok, 18 April
The Peoples' Alliance for Democracy vows to step up its campaign

Thai yellow-shirt protesters, who oppose ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, have given the government a week to end a political crisis or face mass action.

The yellow-shirts, or Peoples' Alliance for Democracy (PAD), are a loose grouping of royalists, businessmen and the urban middle class.

They oppose the pro-Thaksin, mainly poor and rural, red-shirt protesters.

Red-shirts have occupied Bangkok for more than a month in an anti-government campaign that has left 23 people dead.

They say the current government came to power illegally after the military ousted an elected government in 2006 and they want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and quit.

Financial district

The yellow-shirts, who say they are defending the monarchy, held a meeting of some 3,000 supporters in Bangkok on Sunday.

Red-shirt prtesters, 18 April
Formally called the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD)
Mostly poorer workers from rural areas
Many are loyal to ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra
Believe Mr Abhisit came to power illegally and want him to resign and call elections
Known as the Peoples' Alliance for Democracy
Loose coalition of mostly urban middle-class royalists and businessmen
United by their hatred of Mr Thaksin who was ousted in 2006
Occupied airports and official buildings in 2008, precipitating a political crisis

PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang said: "We give the government seven days to return peace to the country or we, every member of the PAD, will perform our duty under the constitution.

"Prepare yourselves for the biggest rally when we will eat and sleep on the street again."

Yellow-shirt spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan added: "In seven days we hope that the government will deal with the terrorists from Thaksin immediately, otherwise we will show our voice to protect the country and the royal family."

The yellow-shirts have been largely low-profile since the latest red-shirt protests began but in 2008 they staged a week-long blockade of airports that stranded hundreds of thousands of tourists.

Yellow-shirt protests also preceded the 2006 coup that ousted Mr Thaksin.

The red-shirt protests continue, with tens of thousands still in central Bangkok, despite an attempt last weekend by security forces to disperse them.

The crackdown sparked the deadliest civil unrest in 18 years.

The red-shirts said on Sunday they would now try to occupy the financial district.

However, army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said that "we won't let them go any further".

"Let's say that we are left with no choice but to enforce the law," he told local television. "Those who do wrong will get their punishment."

Mr Abhisit has refused demands to step down.

On Friday he put the country's army chief, Gen Anupong Paojinda, in charge of security operations.

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