BANGKOK — Protesters in Thailand vowed Tuesday to force the closure of more government offices throughout the country in a bid to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Their leader announced for the first time that their goal is to topple the government and replace it with a non-elected council.
Suthep Thaugsuban, who resigned as an opposition lawmaker to lead the protests, said change is necessary to eradicate the political machine of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin, Yingluck's older brother, was ousted by a 2006 military coup and fled the country to avoid a two-year prison term on a corruption conviction. Protesters accuse Yingluck, who took office in 2011, of being a puppet controlled by her brother.
The protesters began occupying and besieging several government ministries on Monday and made the Finance Ministry their headquarters.
The prime minister called for calm and offered to negotiate with the protest leaders.
"If we can talk, I believe the country will return to normal," she said. She has vowed not to use violence to stop the protests.
Demonstrators surrounded the Interior Ministry and then cut electricity and water to pressure people inside to leave. Security personnel locked themselves behind the ministry's gates, with employees still inside. The transport, agriculture and tourism ministries were also closed Tuesday because of the presence of protesters.
The antigovernment campaign started last month after Yingluck's ruling Pheu Thai party tried to pass an amnesty bill that critics said was designed to absolve Thaksin and others of politically related offenses and allow him to return home. The Senate rejected the bill in a bid to end the protests, but the rallies have gained momentum.
On Sunday, more than 100,000 antigovernment demonstrators staged the country's biggest protest in years.