Thailand Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej says he will not resign
despite growing pressure for him to step down. The Thai leader's vow
came as anti-government protesters occupied his headquarters for a
fifth day. Ron Corben in Bangkok has this report.
Speaking to a
crowd of cheering supporters Saturday, Thai Prime Minister, Samak
Sundarvej vowed to resist calls by anti-government protesters for him
to resign, saying he would stand up to the threats.
Samak met with the country's monarch, King Bhumipol Adulyadej, briefing
the king on the five days of anti-government protests that have pushed
the country into a fresh political crisis.
the seven month old six-party coalition government on Saturday gave
their backing to Mr. Samak's leadership while calling for a special
parliamentary session to debate possible solutions to the crisis.
anti-government protests, led by the People's Alliance for Democracy
are calling for the entire cabinet of Mr. Samak to resign. The
protesters accuse Mr. Samak of being too close to former Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and is accused of
On Friday Thai police tried to force demonstrators
from the government administration compound. Brief scuffles occurred
before the police pulled back.
Panitan Wattanayagorn, a
political scientist from Chulalongkorn University, says the prime
minister has yet to address the issues raised by the protesters,
especially concerns over the influence of Mr. Thaksin.
of course, a political crisis," said Panitan. "On top of these battles
the political demands have not been met or entered by the
administration - especially the Prime Minister. So even though they can
arrest and disperse and arrest some of the protesters many expect the
protesters will regroup, not only in Bangkok but in various places.
national rail system was locked up Saturday after national train
services were disrupted for a second day after rail workers failed to
turn up for work. This followed moves by state enterprise unions to
support the PAD.
Sunai Pasuk, Thailand representative for the
U.S. based, Human Rights Watch, says moves by State Enterprise Unions
to lend support to the PAD will deepen the crisis.
crisis like this will not end with one crackdown or one raid," he said.
"There will be an aftermath, a long standing confrontation between the
two sides now that at least the state enterprise unions are going to
join the PAD as well."
Mr. Samak has accused the anti-government
protesters of seeking to trigger a military coup against his
government. On Friday he met with senior military officials. But the
military has said it does not have a plan to stage a coup. The last
military coup, in 2006, led to the ouster of former Prime Minister,