What excruciating pressure!
Given the forces building against him, it seems incredible that Thaksin can resist the calls for him to quit
Welcome to the latest round of political tension. The situation may be about to reach boiling point, with the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) announcing it will hold a big demonstration against caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra tomorrow.
The PAD rally will demand Thaksin quit politics and go into exile. Thaksin is on a two-week trip to Europe and America and is scheduled to return on Friday.
The PAD expects at least 20,000 to 30,000 protesters to rally at the Royal Plaza, in the start of another round of "people power" to force Thaksin out.
In its first round of demonstrations which ran from February to April, the PAD called on Thaksin to step down, which resulted in him announcing he would not accept the position of prime minister if his party won the April 2 poll. The election was subsequently annulled by the courts.
More than 100,000 people joined those marathon protests.
PAD spokesman Suriyasai Katasila said Thaksin's absence since September 9 had allowed organisations - including the Office of the Auditor-General - to start investigating the sale of Shin Corp shares by the Shinawatra family.
His return might disrupt the investigations, so he should stay abroad, he said.
The call for Thaksin to go into self-imposed exile is simply a means to an end, and that end is for the prime minister to resign.
"Although we are demanding that Thaksin leave politics, even if he just takes a break, most of us will stop protesting," a PAD source told The Nation.
This next round of street protests follows the selection of a new Election Commission by the Senate. The commissioners are awaiting royal confirmation of their appointments.
The next election is likely to be held in late November, as the new EC will be unable to arrange a national poll for the October 15 date set by the last EC chair, Vasana Puemlarp.
Why is the PAD rallying tomorrow? Because it wants to gain momentum in the pressure it is applying on Thaksin ahead of his return on Friday. It is also the first anniversary of PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul's "Muang Thai Rai Sapda" event at Sanam Luang.
As well as the PAD, other groups are putting pressure on Thaksin.
On August 20, more than 10 organisations including former senators, academics and students established an anti-Thaksin network aimed at halting his political career and that of his allies.
September 2 saw 92 people from 43 separate medical groups issue a statement demanding Thaksin resign.
Eight days later, about 500 lecturers, staff and students at the National Institute of Development Administration called on bureaucrats across the country to oppose Thaksin.
They took an oath before a portrait of His Majesty the King declaring they would respond to His Majesty's support of the people with integrity and reject "villains".
September 14 was the turn of many at Chulalongkorn University to hold a forum, at which they vowed to fight Thaksin. Mahidol University lecturers launched a signature drive calling for his resignation.
All these groups have one purpose - to get Thaksin off the political stage.
Now, key members of the Thai Rak Thai Party are planning to derail the protests.
They assert tomorrow's rally is illegal and will file a complaint with the Election Commission calling for it to be banned.
The PAD is sure they will fail. Spokesman Suriyasai said the demonstration did not violate election laws because people had a constitutional right to demonstrate.
Thai Rak Thai announced "millions" of people supported Thaksin - especially in the Northeast - and they would show their support for him with a rally of their own.
While there appears to be no end to the political turmoil, the pressure on Thaksin is mounting and only a decision by him to back down will end the crisis.