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Carnival Atmosphere in Bangkok, Despite Emergency Decree

The atmosphere in central Bangkok, where thousands of anti-government protesters are gathered is upbeat and festive. As Ron Corben from the Thai capital, protesters vow to stay until Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej resigns.

An almost carnival atmosphere permeates the compound of the Thai government's main administration building, where thousands of people have rallied for eight days.

The anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy has set up tents and seats and provides demonstrators food and drink. There is a stage where PAD leaders give speeches.

An office worker, Miss Pearl, and her friends were at the demonstration. She says the scene is calmer than she had expected after clashes early Tuesday.

"It is different from what we saw on the TV and basically I think it looks more secure than what they presented on the TV," she said. "What we saw on TV is something scary. But when you actually come here - like everyday you do not feel like it is anything scary."

Piti Dungpitchit says the atmosphere is upbeat and that protesters are confident they will be able to force out Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

"The people here are very confident," said Piti. "We are steadfast in our will to demand the resignation of the government."

Mr. Samak has been accused of acting for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who recently fled to Britain to avoid trial on corruption charges. Mr. Thaksin, who was ousted in a military coup two years ago, denies wrong doing and accuses the judiciary of bias.

After violence broke out early Tuesday, the government imposed a state of emergency, which bans gatherings of more than five people. The anti-government protesters, however, and supporters of the government, ignore the decree and continue their demonstrations.

Labor unions had threatened to disrupt utilities and transportation in much of Bangkok, but did not carry out the threat. PAD protesters have forced the closure of several regional airports and disrupted national train service. Away from the government offices, Bangkok operates normally.

There are fears that the calm will not last: the country has in the past seen popular uprisings turn bloody as the government or the military cracked down.

Surapong, who works in the parliament, fears for the future.

"I really do not know [what will happen] because Thai people just have to pray for God to do something for goodness to my country because it has a variety of causes to make this situation," said Surapong.

Thailand's army chief has vowed that troops will not use violence against the protesters. The army's main goal, he says, is to keep pro-government and anti-government forces apart.

Thailand remains deeply divided between those who support Mr. Thaksin - mainly the poor, and those in the urban middle class who accuse him of corruption and abusing power.