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Protests Force Thai Prime Minister to Switch Venues


Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told members of parliament Tuesday that his government would work to restore the economy and heal social and political wounds.

Mr. Abhisit was forced to relocate his first policy speech to the foreign ministry after thousands of supporters of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra surrounded the parliament building for a second day.

Hundreds of demonstrators moved to the ministry after news spread that the venue for the speech had been changed. They dispersed after the 50-minute televised address was completed.

Authorities say they are still negotiating with the demonstrators, who call themselves the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship and say they will block access to parliament until their demands for new general elections are met.

Monday's session was postponed by one day, after lawmakers refused to pass through the crowd of protesters to enter the parliament building, citing concerns for their safety.

Mr. Abhisit was sworn in last week, becoming Thailand's third prime minister this year and the first not aligned with Mr. Thaksin.

Thailand's latest political unrest began in August, when People's Alliance for Democracy protesters took over the seat of government to demand the ouster of the pro-Thaksin allies. A series of court rulings resulted in the ouster of two Thaksin-allied prime ministers.

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