3 Nov 2008

Thaksin addresses Bangkok rally by phone

6:07 am on 3 November 2008

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been addressing thousands of supporters at a rally in Bangkok.

Speaking by telephone from his self-imposed exile, Mr Thaksin said he regretted he couldn't be there in person.

The rally was aimed at demonstrating the continuing popularity of Mr Thaksin, who has been living in exile since August after a court verdict.

He was convicted in absentia of breaking conflict of interest rules.

Mr Thaksin accused his opponents of destroying democracy in order to keep him out of power.

A BBC correspondent described Saturday's rally as a well organised show of strength by the Thaksin camp, reminiscent of the slick campaigns that helped the former prime minister win three successive elections.

The organisers said the aim was to demonstrate popular support for the Thaksin-inspired government, at a time when it is under pressure to step down from the People's Alliance for Democracy protest movement, which has been occupying the prime minister's office since August.