(Edited from AP, Bangkok) Anti-government protesters threatened Tuesday to unleash another street “offensive” aimed at deposing the prime minister and described an unexpected ruling that his party be disbanded as just a ploy to buy time in Thailand’s political crisis.

(Edited from AP, Bangkok) Anti-government protesters threatened Tuesday to unleash another street “offensive” aimed at deposing the prime minister and described an unexpected ruling that his party be disbanded as just a ploy to buy time in Thailand’s political crisis.

On Monday, the Election Commission ordered the dissolution of the Democrat Party for allegedly concealing campaign donations, while the powerful army chief threw his weight behind calls for new elections.

The moves were initially expected to blunt demonstrations by thousands of red-shirted protesters whose monthlong campaign exploded into brutal clashes with security forces Saturday, killing 21 people and wounding hundreds in the country’s worst political violence in nearly two decades.

Protest leaders accuse troops of gunning down demonstrators while the government says still unidentified “terrorists” were behind the killings. Reporters saw assault rifles and other weapons in the hands of some of the “Red Shirt” protesters. The government says officers only shot their weapons over the heads of charging protesters.

Though the commission’s decision lends weight to the protesters’ cause, it must still be approved by the Attorney General’s office and the Constitutional Court — a potentially lengthy process. Weng Tojirakarn, a key protest leader, told The Associated Press that the group was therefore sticking to its demand that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva immediately dissolve Parliament and hold elections.

The Red Shirts vowed to march Wednesday on a military barrack where the prime minister has been living during the crisis if the army didn’t “immediately stop sheltering a murderer like Abhisit,” according to protest leader, Nattawut Saikua.

Despite threats of further confrontations, tensions have subsided in the Thai capital since Saturday.

In Bangkok, Thanis Sriprathes, deputy secretary-general of the Election Commission, told reporters that Abhisit’s party was found guilty of failing to disclose — as required by law — that it received 258 million baht ($8 million) from TPI Polene, a cement producer.

 

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