7th March 2014 – Supporters of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinwatra are gathering on Saturday to rally for the government amid the protracted political crisis in the country.

Thai Red Shirts supporters at a rally at a stadium in Bangkok

Thai Red Shirts supporters at a rally at a stadium in Bangkok

The mass rally, to be in Chiang Mai on Saturday, is expected to attract a large number of supporters from eight provinces in northern Thailand.

Preparations are already underway in nearby Lampang province, the initial gathering point for the pro-government Red Shirts. They will later make their way, travelling hundreds of kilometres to Chiang Mai’s main sports stadium for the rally on Saturday evening.

The one-day rally is intended to be a show of force by the Red Shirts.

They want to send a signal to their opponents that they will not stand idle if the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is toppled through illegitimate means.

The Red Shirts also want to put pressure on the courts and the National Anti Corruption Commission over their handling of legal cases against the government.

Ms Yingluck is being charged for negligence in the government’s troubled rice pledging scheme, a case that could see her suspended from her office. There are also several other ongoing court cases against the government.

The Red Shirts, particularly those from the North, have come under fire in recent weeks after allegations that they want to split from the country to form an independent state.

The allegations were reported in Thai media after mysterious banners appeared in several northern provinces over the last few weeks, advocating the partition of the country as a solution to the ongoing political crisis.

Several Thai media outlets have also quoted some Red Shirt leaders as calling for separation. However, the Red Shirts said that they were misquoted.

The Royal Thai Army has been seeking court action against the Red Shirts on separation charges, but Red Shirt leaders have denied having any intention of dividing the country or forming an independent state on their own.