Thai ruling party should dissolve: election body
21 killed in weekend clash with security forces
Thai anti-government protesters are celebrating after the country's Election Commission found the ruling party guilty Monday of misusing poll donations and recommended its dissolution.
The commission's decision will have to be endorsed by the Constitutional Court for the Democrat Party of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to be disbanded. No date was set for the court to hear the case.
The Election Commission decision Monday adds a new twist to Thailand's ongoing political crisis over protesters' demands for the government to step down.
The crisis erupted into violence in Bangkok on Saturday when 21 people were killed in street clashes with security forces.
On Monday, a massive motorcade of trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles wound its way through the main roads of Bangkok. They carried 11 coffins with bodies of those killed in Saturday's violence, said Weng Tojirakarn, a protest leader.
Four soldiers and 17 civilians were killed, including a Thomson Reuters news agency cameraman. The government was conducting autopsies on nine bodies Monday.
The anti-government protesters are made up of mostly poor and rural supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.On the other side is the prime minister, whom the Red Shirts see as a symbol of the ruling elite they say orchestrated the 2006 military coup that removed Thaksin from power amid corruption allegations.
Both sides accuse each other of firing battlefield weapons during the confrontation.
"These are the heroes of democracy," a protest leader shouted Monday from a loudspeaker mounted atop a truck.
"We want to see shame on Abhisit's face. We want him to take responsibility for this slaughter of innocents," said a woman who identified herself only as Thip.
The protests began a month ago, with the activists calling on Abhisit to dissolve parliament and call new elections.
Some of the heaviest fighting occurred near the backpacker mecca of Khao San Road, where protesters came in throngs Sunday to pose for pictures on top of seized army vehicles. Others strolled around in confiscated army riot gear.
Apichart Sankary, an executive with the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations, said that if street protests continue the number of foreign visitors could drop to 14.5 million this year from an earlier projection of 15.5 million.