Thai ‘red shirts’ splatter blood at PM’s home

Red-shirted protesters emptied bottles of their blood outside the home of Thailand’s prime minister on Wednesday in a symbolic sacrifice after the government rejected calls for elections.

Despite the fourth day of street rallies in Bangkok, Thai stocks hit a 19-month high and the baht currency raced to its strongest level in 22 months. Investors have been emboldened by the lack of violence and the view that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva would survive the crisis.

Economists say the central bank will likely bring forward an expected interest-rate rise that could have been delayed by unrest. Benchmark five-year bond yields dropped two basis points to 3,53% as prices rose.

“The political event does not have as much teeth as expected,” said Chakkrit Charoenmetachai, an analyst with Globlex Securities, adding that foreign money should continue to flow into Thai assets if the protest did not end in violence.

But the supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra are not letting up in their campaign for new elections.

They promised a city-wide march on Saturday, bringing in reinforcements to cover thousands of protesters who became weary and left after days on the street in the scorching Bangkok heat.

“The government may think this is nearly over — it isn’t,” a protest leader, Nattawut Saikua, told reporters, calling on Bangkok residents to join them.

Honking horns, singing folk songs and waving red flags, protesters converged on Abhisit’s house in an affluent Bangkok neighbourhood where they splashed blood — a few spoonfuls donated by each — on the gates and fences amid pouring rain.

“We have washed Abhisit’s house with the blood of the common people to express our wish,” said Nattawut, as thousands of supporters rattled plastic clappers.

Protesters say the splashing of blood was a “symbolic sacrifice for democracy”. It is also a bid to re-energise a peaceful movement that appears to be waning in numbers.

On Tuesday, protesters poured blood outside Abhisit’s office and his Democrat Party’s headquarters, following an unorthodox ritual by a man who dressed like a Brahmin priest in white garb. — Reuters

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