Thailand's prime minister says he will not resign, despite calls by the
Thai military to step down following bloodshed at an anti-government
demonstration last week. Ron Corben reports for VOA from Bangkok.
Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat told reporters Friday he would not
step aside, vowing to continue to work despite calls from military
chiefs for his resignation.
An anti-government rally on October
7 left at least two dead and 400 wounded when Thai border and local
police opened fire with tear gas and incendiary devices on thousands of
protesters outside parliament. At least 20 police were also injured in
Prime Minister Somchai says the government will
await the results of an investigation before making a decision on the
government's next moves. He said his work covered official duties,
including the funeral rites for the Thai King's late sister, and
hosting a regional summit of Asian leaders in December.
earlier, army chief General Anupong Paochinda, speaking on national
television, called on the government to "take responsibility" and
Mr. Somchai assumed the post of prime minister in
September, after the former government leader, Samak Sundaravej, was
forced to stand down after being found guilty in a case of conflict of
Protesters on Friday, led by the People's Alliance for Democracy, or PAD, called on the government to resign.
A protester said the government needed to heed the Thai army chief's call
to resign. "Yes, I fully agree with him [the Army chief] - the
government should resign immediately," he said.
analyst Chris Baker said Prime Minister Somchai may be under pressure
to remain in office to assist his brother-in-law, former Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra, who is facing several court cases. Thaksin fled to
Britain in August during a key corruption case. Courts have since
issued several warrants for his arrest.
The People's Alliance
for Democracy has accused the government, elected last December, of
acting as a proxy for Thaksin. Analysts say the administration is
seeking to amend the constitution to halt investigations and court
proceedings against Thaksin, his family and supporters.
think the only way you can explain it is that Thaksin has put a lot of
pressure on his brother-in-law to stand up there and take the heat - it
is very high risk indeed. I think the priority is to try and overthrow
as much of the court processes as they can - that means they have to
hold the current attorney general in place," said political analyst
Thailand's politics remains deeply divided. Thaksin,
elected in 2001, maintains strong support in rural areas, due to his
government's populist polices of low cost health care and village
But the urban middle class has accused Thaksin
and his supporters of abuse of power. Calls for Thaksin to resign in
2006 led to a last military coup that September. The armed forces say
they are ruling out a coup, and have called on the government to settle
the problems through the political process.