Bangkok residents braced themselves for a "shutdown" of the city by anti-government protesters who plan to block at least 20 major intersections across the congested Thai capital tomorrow in their stepped up campaign to topple embattled Premier Yingluck Shinawatra's regime.
The continuing protests have prompted UN chief Ban Ki-moon to try and "bridge the gap" between the government and the opposition.
Ban has said he has spoken with Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiv in the past three days "in an effort to help them bridge their differences." "I am very concerned that the situation could escalate in the days ahead, particularly next Monday, January 13, when protesters said they will shut down Bangkok," Ban said and urged all involved to show restraint, avoid provocative acts and settle their differences peacefully, through dialogues.
Thai authorities have mobilised at least 20,000 policemen and soldiers across Bangkok to maintain law and order.
The local public transport system will operate normally while the protesters have said the international airport will not be blocked.
The opposition-backed protesters want Yingluck and her brother former premier Thaksin Shinawatra out of Thai politics. Thaksin was overthrown in a coup in 2006 and is in self-exile in Dubai.
Yingluck has called for snap polls on February 2 following weeks of opposition protests. But the opposition has said it will boycott the polls.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission today submitted a formal request to Shinawatra that she consider postponing the polls to a later date.
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said last night that he doesn't want a coup and added that the people, not him, must decide future, the Nation newspaper said.
Despite having fought on the street against the Yingluck government since the end of October, the 64-year-old veteran politician , a former deputy premier, refused to give up - even if the government decided to postpone the election. "If it becomes a civil war, I will give up. People's life is precious for me," he said. "If someone instigates a civil war, I will tell the people to go home," the paper quoted him as saying.