Warning of violence … police scuffle with anti-government protesters near Bangkok's Parliament. Photo: Reuters
POLICE fired tear-gas to disperse protesters at the biggest anti-government rally in Bangkok since the Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was swept to power last year.
The rally by a royalist group calling itself Pitak Siam, or Protect Thailand, shows that deep political divisions remain in Thailand, where more than 90 people were killed and hundreds injured on Bangkok's streets in 2010.
Before the rally Ms Yingluck accused demonstrators of seeking to overthrow the government and warned of possible violence.
''Being a democracy is not only about expressing one's freedoms,'' Ms Yingluck said. ''The rule of law must be observed and obeyed.'' Her government invoked special security laws to enable security forces to control the protesters.
Since Ms Yingluck, the sister of the exiled former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, took power in July last year there have been no large protest rallies, although political tensions have simmered behind the scenes.
Saturday's rally was led by a retired general, Boonlert Kaewprasit, who is calling on the military to stage another coup. The army, which ousted Mr Thaksin in a 2006 coup, insists it will not intervene.
Police fired tear-gas and beat back with batons 50 to 100 protesters who tried to breach concrete barriers.