Anti-government protesters in Bangkok have defied “no go” orders issued by the authorities to occupy the city’s plush commercial centre for a fourth day running.
Thousands of red shirt protesters on motorbikes fanned out across the Thai capital as demonstrators on foot became hemmed-in by riot police.
The red shirts had earlier said they were going to call off a proposed parade to avoid clashes with security forces.
But no attempt was made to remove the tens of thousands of demonstrators and both sides became locked in an uneasy stand-off.
Then, after an army spokesman announced there would be “no crackdown”, protest leaders -supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Sinawatra – went back on the deal and ordered the rally to go-ahead.
The red shirts are trying to force the incumbent prime minister Abhisit Wejjajiva to dissolve parliament and call an election.
The protests, say analysts, are being fuelled by feelings of disenfranchisement and a widening gap between rich and poor.