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More Demonstrators Flock to Bangkok


Thousands of new protesters from the Thai countryside have descended on the capital of Bangkok, complicating efforts to end demonstrations that have paralyzed the city.

In his weekly television address Sunday, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva called for a quick end to two months of protests. He demanded that opposition Red Shirts give a clear answer to his reconciliation proposal no later than Monday.

The Thai leader is offering to hold elections on November 14, but warns he will rescind the offer if violence continues.

Earlier Sunday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Kurt Campbell met with government officials and opposition activists. He said he hopes anti-government protesters seize the opportunity.

The talks follow new violence and the arrival of more protesters Saturday. Two police officers were killed and 13 other people were wounded in gun and grenade attacks, while an estimated 5,000 protesters began joining fellow Red Shirts in occupied parts of the capital.

The arrival of the new protesters comes just one month after clashes killed 25 people in the financial district of Silom.

On Sunday, protest leaders called for an investigation into the violence and for charges to be filed, while relatives of those who died displayed pictures of their loved ones during an event in downtown Bangkok.

Earlier this month, Mr. Abhisit offered to hold early elections if the Red Shirts accepted his reconciliation plan, which includes constitutional reform, resolving economic injustices and an independent investigation of recent political violence.

The protesters are demanding an early election to replace a government they see as elitist and undemocratic. Many of them are rural poor and working class activists who support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup for alleged corruption.

The Red Shirts have accepted Mr. Abhisit's reconciliation plan in principle, but have not yet agreed to leave the protest site.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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