Protesters against a government-backed amnesty bill in Thailand have been given a boost after the Senate voted unanimously against it in a bid to ease political tensions.
The bill could allow the return from exile of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled from power in 2006 but remains a figure who divides the country.
A demonstration, which had continued for about ten days, reached its climax on Monday, while the police mobilised several thousand men to keep order.
According to the law in Thailand, the bill will be frozen for 180 days and then return to the lower house, the House of Representatives.
Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is now prime minister. She has said her government will shelve the bill but protesters – mostly royalists and nationalists – want it scrapped completely.
They have called for a general strike from tomorrow.
Thaksin Shinawatra was convicted in 2008 in his absence on corruption charges he says were politically motivated. He is still adored by mostly poor, rural supporters but distrusted by much of the Thai establishment.
Some among Thaksin’s “red shirt” movement are also against the amnesty bill as it would protect those who ordered troops to quell their protests in 2010.
More than 90 people were killed in the crackdown.