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Despite Protests, Thailand's PM Says She Won't Resign

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says she will not give into opposition demands she resign, despite two days of large anti-government protests in Bangkok.

Mrs. Yingluck told reporters Tuesday she has a constitutional duty to stay on as prime minister, and that only cooperation and dialogue can resolve the country's months-long political deadlock.

"I've stressed many times I have a duty to act according to my responsibility after the dissolving of parliament. I have the responsibility of acting as caretaker. I'd like to say right now, I am not holding on (to my position), but I have to maintain political stability."

She spoke as thousands of opposition protesters filled Bangkok streets for a second day, waving flags and blowing whistles outside several government buildings in an attempt to disrupt official business.

Their leader, ex-Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, said he will keep up the protests, and even threatened to detain his rival if she does not step down soon.

"In two to three days, we'll close all of the government offices. But if they remain steadfast, we'll detain the prime minister and other ministers."

The protests initially aimed to "shut down" the capital. But life continued as usual in most parts of the city Tuesday, though traffic was lighter than usual and protesters blocked several key intersections.

The protests did successfully shut down or prevent from opening several government buildings, though officials insisted work continued elsewhere at back-up sites.

One of the demonstrators, Suwisa Rakpong, is confident the government feels the pressure.

"We think this will help (to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from government), though I don't know how stubborn she is. But she'll probably leave."

The protests have been peaceful, with some describing a festival-like atmosphere. But a hardline group has threatened to take over the stock exchange if the prime minister does not step down within days.

Prime Minister Yingluck has dissolved parliament, called for early elections on February 2, and proposed the formation of a national reform council as a way to resolve the months-long political crisis.

On Wednesday, she will meet with protest and political leaders to discuss the election commission's request to postpone the polls until May.

The opposition has said her concessions are not enough.

Suthep has called for a non-elected "people's council" to replace the current government and implement reforms to end corruption and money politics before any new vote takes place.

Analysts say the prime minister's ruling party is likely to win next month's snap election, which the main opposition party plans to boycott.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Monday said the U.S. is urging all sides to refrain from violence, and it applauds the restraint shown so far by government authorities.

The opposition views Ms. Yingluck as a puppet of her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, convicted of corruption and now lives in self-imposed exile.

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