News / Asia

    Thai PM Dismisses Offer by Anti-Government Protesters

    Ron Corben

    Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has ruled out a compromise offer by anti-government protest leaders for parliament to be dissolved with elections to be held in 90 days.

    In a televised address Sunday, with army chief General Anupong Paochinda at his side, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dismissed an offer by the anti-government protesters for parliament to be dissolved in 30 days.  He said such issues could not be resolved in such a short period of time.

    Mr. Abhisit said the government stood by an offer made during earlier talks with the anti-government United Democratic Front against Dictatorship for the house to be dissolved within the next nine months.

    In reaction, the UDD maintained an earlier call for parliament to be dissolved immediately. The UDD also withdrew from any further negotiations with the government.

    UDD leaders have repeatedly warned supporters rallying in central Bangkok's retail and business area of the threat of a new government crackdown.

    General Anupong said a crackdown was not expected to solve the current problems, which, he said, called for a political solution.

    A pro-Government Rally in Bangkok, Thailand, 24 April 2010
    A pro-Government Rally in Bangkok, Thailand, 24 April 2010

    A Thai Army spokesman dismissed reports the use of force had been ruled out as an option to end rallies that have slowly paralyzed key business areas of the city. The on-going crisis has led to growing numbers of  pro-government rallies.

    Amnat Ngamturiodo, a governments supporter, said both sides needed to step back to ease rising tensions.

    "Right now our Thai (nation is) breaking into groups and they have a lot of different ideas and they did not listen to each other so it takes time for us to calm down and set up the (new) parliament," Amnat said.

    The UDD-led protests are largely supporting former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.  Mr. Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup and fled overseas to avoid a two year jail term for corruption.

    Thailand is facing its most severe political crisis in almost 20 years with the anti-government rallies stoking deep social and political divisions.

    The UDD claims Mr. Abhisit's government is without legitimacy after two pro-Thaksin administrations were ruled out by court decisions. Mr. Abhisit said he will step aside if he is unable to find a solution.

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