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Thai PM Rejects Protesters Calls to Dissolve Government


Anti-government protests continue in Thailand's capital, Bangkok, after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva rejected demands to hold new elections. Tens of thousands of red dressed demonstrators surrounded a military compound where the prime minister has been based and vowed to keep up the pressure.

The massive crowd of protesters waved banners and clappd plastic noise makers as a convoy of trucks carrying protest organizers arrives at a military base in Bangkok.

Video clip: Anti-government demonstration in Bangkok Monday

An estimated 100,000 demonstrators have gathered in the Thai capital, many of them from the rural north, to demand the government resign and call new elections.

Thousands were at the base where the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been operating during the protests. He pre-empted a noon deadline protesters had set and refused their demands on national television, saying the timing was not right for elections.

"We are coming here today to ask the prime minister to resign," said Pranot Munnyrak, who was protesting outside the military base.
"That's the main point. But we have heard that the prime minister already has announced that he is not going to resign."

Despite the government's rejection, protesters vowed to press on and have threatened to step up their demonstrations if the government is not dissolved.

Nattawut Saikua, one of the protest leaders, rode on top of a truck that slowly drove past the gates of the military base. He spoke to the crowd through loudspeakers. He says if there is no dissolution of the parliament today then there must be no later than tomorrow evening. He tells the protesters to wait for their next move.

Convoys of protesters, some more than a mile long, could be seen Monday headed towards protest areas.

Many of the red shirts, as they are known, are supporters of deposed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who now lives in exile to avoid corruption charges.

He was ousted in a 2006 coup that protesters say was orchestrated by the military and traditional elite in Bangkok who felt threatened by his support from the rural poor.

Yellow dressed protesters overthrew a government friendly to Thaksin in 2008 by occupying government buildings and the airport.

The red shirts are hoping for a similar result but have so far limited their protests to the streets and areas surrounding government and military buildings.

Also in Bangkok Monday, the military said two soldiers were wounded from grenades fired into another military base. It was not clear if the attack was related to the anti-government protests.

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