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Cambodian cops out in force for mass Thaksin rally

Friday, April 13, 2012


Cambodia will deploy thousands of security personnel to police a mass rally for ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra this weekend.

Thaksin, a deeply divisive figure in neighboring Thailand who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption, is set to address tens of thousands of his "Red Shirt" supporters tomorrow in northwestern Siem Reap province.

Phnom Penh said it will foot the bill to provide crowd control and protection for the former Thai leader, who has strong links to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"We have a duty to provide security for Thai people and for Thaksin," national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said.

He said there was no specific threat to anyone's safety, but noted that the Red Shirts have a long-standing rivalry with Thai political opponents.

"This is a huge and historical event," he said. "Many thousands of security forces will be in place."

Mass rallies by Thaksin's supporters in the Thai capital in 2010 descended into the kingdom's worst political violence in decades, with more than 90 people - mostly civilians - killed in a military crackdown.

The former tycoon, whose sister Yingluck became prime minister in Thailand last year, told the Red Shirts via a video address from Laos that he expects to set foot in Thailand this year. Tep Bunchhay, the governor of Siem Reap town, best known as the gateway to Cambodia's temples, said a large campsite would house the visitors.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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