Thailand extends security law for protests

A supporter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra walks past a placard during a rally in Bangkok.
By: Reuters Tags : Thailand, Panitan Watanayagorn, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thaksin Shinawatra Posted: Tuesday , Mar 23, 2010 at 1841 hrs Bangkok: 
Thailand extended a tough security law on Tuesday for another week after opposition protest leaders called for a "historic rally" to paralyse Bangkok in a bid to force an election that appears no closer to succeeding.
Tens of thousands of protesters remained at their open-air encampment in their trademark red shirts, calling for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament in a rally that has now entered its second week.
Security concerns were highlighted when two grenades exploded in the compound of the Public Health Ministry, about 1 km (0.6 miles) from where the cabinet had earlier met.
The usual venue, Government House, has been avoided because of its proximity to the protests. The explosions, like previous incidents, were not blamed on the "red shirts" and caused no injuries.
Protest leaders, allied with ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have not revealed details of their plans for the rally on Saturday and whether the demonstrators will fan out across the city as at least 65,000 of them did at the weekend.
"The cabinet sees that there is still a need to be vigilant," Abhisit told reporters, adding the law has been extended until March 30 for Bangkok and some surrounding districts.
The rally has so far been orderly. Most analysts say the protesters are likely to struggle to maintain momentum and expect Abhisit to prevail because of the support he enjoys from the majority of parliament, the powerful military and Bangkok elite.
These factors have encouraged continued fund flows into Thai assets, pushing Thai stocks to around a 20-month on Tuesday, drawn by cheap share prices and high dividend yields.

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