Pro-government “Red Shirts” began massing in Bangkok on Saturday to counter the opposition’s bid to install an unelected regime.
The opposition’s move follows the Constitutional Court’s dismissal on May 7 of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine cabinet ministers for the “improper transfer” of a top security official.
About 3,000 police officers were on stand-by for the pro-government rally on the western outskirts of Bangkok.
The Red Shirts have pledged to keep up their protests for as long as necessary to defend the government, while opposition demonstrators said they would do what is necessary to bring down the remnants of the government to enable an unelected leadership to take power.
The heightened political tensions are raising fears about a military coup. PM Yingluck’s elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was deposed by royalist generals in a coup in 2006, an event that ushered in years of political turmoil.