The anti-government rally at the Uruphong intersection gathered strength Sunday, forcing the city police to close 14 routes in an apparent attempt to stop protesters from marching to Government House.
Police erected concrete barriers Sunday on roads leading to Government House, ahead of the expected return of anti-government protesters. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
The rally site burst with activity as a three-day agreement with police that protesters would steer clear of Government House during the visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang came to an end. Mr Li left Sunday afternoon.
The Uruphong protesters have split away from the People's Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism (Pefot) after the Internal Security Act (ISA) was invoked.
They are said to be upset with Pefot, which agreed to return to its original rally site in Lumpini Park following the ISA enforcement.
The arrival of V for Thailand movement supporters and various groups of vocational students Sunday bolstered the rally.
The white-masked V for Thailand supporters, which halted their activity for a while Sunday, gathered at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in Pathumwan before marching to the Uruphong intersection.
Uthai Yodmanee, a coordinator of the Uruphong rally, said Sunday there is no plan to march from that site to Government House.
He said the group, which calls itself the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand, will stay put and mobilise as many people as possible.
The situation will be assessed on a daily basis, he added.
He also criticised the city police for pressuring the protesters by ordering road closures.
Mr Uthai said the ban is to prevent protesters from the provinces joining the rally.
He said the group has three demands for the government: Stop contacting ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra; allow the group to review the prosecution's decision not to indict Thaksin on terrorism charges; and refrain from appointing former attorney-general Chulasingh Vasantasingh to a political office.
Meanwhile, Pefot coordinator Taikorn Pholsuwan said the group will not dissolve to join the Uruphong rally.
He said the group is working with its allies in the province to plan the date when it will return to stage a protest at Government House.
"We have the same goal, which is to oppose moves to grant an amnesty to Thaksin, and to bring down the Thaksin regime," he said.
"We will return to Government House and the protest will be peaceful."
Mr Taikorn said that Pefot will Monday call on people across the country to launch a major work stoppage.
Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy chief Adul Narongsak said city police have decided to close the routes around Government House following a report that anti-government protesters at Uruphong intersection may march to Government House.
Pol Maj Gen Adul said the ban is to keep the protesters at bay because Government House is in the restricted areas covered by the ISA.
The roadblock is deemed a necessary precaution against any untoward incidents, he said.
The routes were closed at 2pm Sunday. (Story continues following the infographic)
More checkpoints will be set up to screen vehicles and residents passing through the restricted areas.
Residents and state officials are required to show their identification cards.
The ISA will remain in force until Friday.
National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said the road closure is a signal to the protesters not to travel from the Uruphong intersection to Government House.
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva Sunday called on the protesters and the government to refrain from violence.
He said respecting the laws can alleviate tension and prevent the situation from getting out of hand.