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Thai PM Resists More Calls to Resign; Presses Ahead with April 2 Vote


Some ten thousand protestors marched along Bangkok's streets Sunday - keeping up the pressure on Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to resign. But the Thai leader has ignored weeks of demonstrations and remains determined to hold early national elections next week to resolve the political crisis.

Thousands of protestors descended on Bangkok's up market shopping malls maintaining their calls for Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to resign over allegations of corruption.

The march followed an overnight protest near Government House led by the People's Alliance for Democracy that drew up to 100,000 people.

And despite fears of violence, weeks of anti-Thaksin rallies have remained peaceful. Mr. Vivat, a Thai businessman who marched Sunday, says the opposition is determined.

"We will try to convince him to get out. We will not do any thing violent," he says.

Mr. Thaksin's problems began in January when his family sold almost two billion dollars of shares in their media empire to a Singapore concern. The sale was legal and tax free - but angered many Thais who see it as abuse of power.

They have rallied around the opposition - led by businessman and publisher, Sondhi Limthongkul - who has raised allegations of corruption in the five-year-old Thaksin government.

They want the prime minister to resign and handover power to a cabinet appointed by Thai King Bhumipol Adulyadej.

Author and Thai political consultant, Chris Baker, says King Bhumipol is unlikely to step in and call for the government's resignation.

"It's clear that the King is not inclined to intervene despite all the calls to him," he says. "The country is very divided. He would not want to be taking sides in such a situation."

Mr. Thaksin has ruled out stepping down but has moved to end the political crisis by calling elections three years early.

The opposition has vowed to boycott the April 2nd vote. The Election Commission - which has also raised concerns - meets Monday to decide whether the election should be delayed to allow more preparation time.

But Mr. Thaksin, in media reports Sunday, expressed confidence the election will go ahead.

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