BANGKOK, Thailand — Thai police fired tear gas at thousands of right-wing protesters besieging their headquarters Friday, while demonstrators outside the capital disrupted air and rail service in a growing campaign to unseat the prime minister.
Saying that Western-style democracy has allowed corruption to flourish, the protesters have said they hope to repeat their success of two years ago, when they helped topple former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej insisted he won't step down and may declare a state of emergency, suspending some civil liberties, if rioting during the four-day old protest worsens. The country's influential army commander said the military will steer clear of politics and not stage a coup.
The People's Alliance for Democracy protesters settled in for a fourth night occupying the grounds housing Samak's offices. They have fought police — under orders to show restraint — to a standoff.
"After the current government is ousted, we will propose a totally new political system with those corrupt guys prosecuted, and we will have a clean and efficient political system," protest leader Sondhi Limthongkul said.
The alliance accuses Samak's government of serving as a proxy for Thaksin, who was deposed in a bloodless coup and banned from public office until 2012. Thaksin, who fled to self-imposed exile in Britain, faces an array of corruption charges.