With files from The Associated Press
A Thai soldier reaches out from his military jeep in Bangkok on April 14 to greet cheering Thai government supporters and royalists protesting recent anti-government rallies and clashes. (David Guttenfelder/Associated Press)
Hundreds of people opposed to the dissolution of Thailand's parliament demonstrated in Bangkok on Wednesday, while anti-government protesters began moving out of one of their encampments.
Roughly 700 people gathered at the Victory Monument war memorial, claiming they were not members of the so-called Yellow Shirts — backers of the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The protest also came after a month of demonstrations by the Red Shirts, an anti-government group.
"I think it's time to make our voice heard," said Somchai Siripaiboonpong, 57. "Each claims that they're the majority, but no one group is representative of the population."
Meanwhile, the Red Shirts said they will complete a move from a base in the historic part of Bangkok to a second encampment in the city's commercial area by Thursday. The protesters have occupied the two areas for a month.
A Red Shirt leader, Weng Tojirakarn, said the group would decide its next move on Friday, following the conclusion of Songkran, a three-day Thai New Year celebration.
The New Year festival has reduced some of the tensions that boiled over Saturday when security forces tried to push the Red Shirts out of the old section of Bangkok.
The death toll from the outbreak of violence rose to 23, following the deaths of a soldier and a civilian late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
The violence, which has left 195 people in hospital — including 14 in intensive care — is being called the worst in the country in about two decades.
The Red Shirts claim that Abhisit, who has the backing of the business class, top army officials and the urban middle class, came to power illegally, and they are demanding a new election.
On Tuesday, the country's election commission ordered the dissolution of the ruling Democrat Party over allegations it concealed campaign donations.
However, the Red Shirts called the ruling a government ploy to buy time. The commission ruling could face a lengthy court process to be approved.