Hundreds of protesters have forced their way into Thailand's finance ministry, even as thousands marched to various government buildings across Bangkok shouting "Get Out!" in a bid to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Anti-government protests have rocked Bangkok ever since the ruling party tried to push through the controversial amnesty bill which, according to the opposition, is aimed at facilitating the return of former prime minster Thaksin Shinawatra.
"I invite protesters to stay here overnight at the Finance Ministry," protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban asked thousands of protesters gathered around the ministry, Reuters reported, citing eyewitnesses. "I urge other protesters to do the same and seize other government buildings and offices around the country."
The amnesty bill would have allowed self-exiled Shinawatra back into the mainstream Thai politics without facing trial for the corruption charges levelled against him in 2008. Before the corruption trial was to begin, Shinawatra fled the country. However, in 2011 his sister Yingluck Shinawatra led Pheu Thai party to victory in general elections.
The controversial amnesty bill was recently passed in the lower house, triggering large-scale street protests. The Senate rejected the bill subsequently.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has reiterated that she will respect the Senate's decision, but the protesters are determined to use the momentum created by the current public upheaval to take down the Shinawatra regime.
Thaugsuban, a former Democrat lawmaker, said the ultimate goal of the protest is to uproot the Thaksin regime. "We won't stop even if Yingluck Shinawatra resigns or the House is dissolved," Thaugsuban told the crowd, according to the Bangkok Post. "Our demonstration will continue until we can get rid of the Thaksin regime," he added.
Besides the amnesty bill, a series of unpopular measures taken by the government had put the government under the scanner.
A bill to change the composition of the Senate was passed in the joint sitting of the Senate and the House, while many legislators were denied the right to debate it.
A group of lawmakers lodged a complaint with the Constitution Court questioning the constitutionality of the draft. But the government rejected the verdict, which was against it, according to reports.
In the midst of the widespread grouse that the government was resorting to dubious means to stay in power, the ruling party brought the amnesty bill in the lower house on Nov. 1. It was passed 310-0 at 3 in the morning even as the opposition walked out after they were denied the right to debate, according to the Bangkok Post.
With the anti-government movement entering the second day, Suthep told protesters to break up and move to 13 locations including television stations, military installations, police and government premises.
Reports citing the latest police estimates said around 200,000 protesters have gathered on the streets of Bangkok.