* Foreigners net sellers of Thai shares for 1st time in
* Red shirts want their opposition TV station back on air
* Protesters ignore order to end mass city-centre rallies
(Adds arrest warrants issued, 8th paragraph)
By Jason Szep and Martin Petty
BANGKOK, April 8 Thai anti-government
protesters vowed to go ahead with a mass street rally on Friday
in defiance of an emergency decree imposed in the capital to
quell nearly a month of demonstrations demanding new elections.
A day after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva imposed a
state of emergency, authorities blocked websites and shut down
an influential opposition television station, sparking a
scuffle between riot police and "red shirt" protesters.
Thailand's hot stock market posted its biggest drop in
nearly six months. Abhisit called off a one-day trip to Vietnam
for a Southeast Asian summit. Tens of thousands of protesters
ignored orders to end a six-day siege of Bangkok's main
"We will tear up all laws," Nattawut Saikua, a red shirt
leader, told cheering supporters after calling for a march on
Friday to 10 undisclosed points across Bangkok.
"We don't want to call it the final day, but if we can
score a knockout, we definitely will," he said. "This is all
for Abhisit to dissolve parliament."
Nearly 1,000 of the supporters of ousted former Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra tried to push through anti-riot
forces guarding Thaicom Pcl's (THCOM.BK) satellite earth
station in northern Pathum Thani Province before retreating by
The company, once owned by Thaksin, had broadcast red shirt
programmes before authorities took those off air on Thursday.
As authorities issued arrest warrants for 10 red shirt
leaders, the risk of confrontation drove Thailand's stock index
.SETI down 3.5 percent to its lowest since Oct. 15.
"We have to admit that the political factor has affected
consumers and business," Bank of Thailand Chief Economist
Suchart Sakkankosone told reporters, adding unrest could
influence the timing of an interest-rate rise most economists
expect in June.
Foreigners, who had snapped up $1.8 billion in Thai stocks
since Feb. 22, turned net sellers for the first time in more
than six weeks after a buying spree spurred by cheap valuations
and Thailand's fast-recovering economy.
The Thai economy, Southeast Asia's second biggest, may lose
0.2-1.5 percentage points in growth, depending on the severity
of the unrest, Kasikorn Research Center said in a research
For a graphic illustrating net foreign buying of Thai stocks:
Abhisit faces a difficult choice: compromise and call an
election he could easily lose, or launch a crackdown on tens of
thousands of protesters that could stir up even more trouble.
Most analysts doubt the authorities will use force to
remove the mostly rural and working class protesters camped in
Bangkok's upmarket shopping district since last Saturday - a
politically risky decision for Abhisit as his 16-month-old
coalition government struggles to build support outside
The protesters and onlookers swelled in number as the sun
set and the tropical heat eased. Streets were jammed with
trucks, taxis, motorbikes, food stalls, few police and mostly
excited people gathered around about a dozen screens far from
the centre stage.
Some waved flags, lifted by rousing speeches attacking
Abhisit and the emergency degree as unlawful. The crowd went
wild when red shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan screamed: "We will
bring back democracy... Democracy! Democracy! Democracy!"
Bangkok generally was calm but there were scattered reports
Overnight, two men on a motorbike fired into offices of the
nationalist monarchist "yellow shirts", arch rivals of Thaksin
and his allies, wounding two security guards. A grenade lobbed
at a yellow shirt radio station failed to explode.
In 2008, the yellow shirts occupied the prime minister's
office for three months and blockaded Bangkok's main airport
until a court expelled the Thaksin-allied government.
Pressure is growing on Abhisit from residents in Bangkok, a
stronghold of his Democrat Party, to take decisive action to
end the rolling protests, which began on March 14 when up to
150,000 massed in the city's old quarter.
"Abhisit has been accused of finding it difficult to make
decisions and he seems to be struggling here somewhat. But it
is a difficult position. There's human cost involved," said
Danny Richards, senior Asia editor at the Economist
The emergency decree allows authorities to suspend certain
civil liberties, ban public gatherings of more than five people
and stop media reporting news that "causes panic".
Abhisit assured the public on Wednesday that the emergency
would not be used to impose a crackdown. Recently he has
offered some concessions, including dissolving parliament in
December, a year early, but protesters are demanding immediate
By Thursday, authorities had blocked most websites
associated with the protesters and taken several opposition TV
channels off air. Military checkpoints had gone up outside
Bangkok to stop more from entering the sprawling city of 15
"We will go on the offensive," a protest leader, Weng
Tojirakarn, told Reuters. Another red shirt leader, Nattawut
Saikua, said they "would not give up".
The protesters see the urbane, British-born,
Oxford-educated Abhisit as a front man for an unelected elite
and military intervening in politics with impunity.
(Additional reporting by Vithoon Amorn and Pracha
Hariraksapitak; Editing by Nick Macfie and Ron Popeski)