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Thai PM Says Will Not Dissolve Parliament Unless Bangkok Protest Ends

Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has warned opposition protesters he will not proceed with an offer to hold early elections unless they end an eight-week long occupation of Bangkok's commercial center.

Mr. Abhisit said Thursday that if the protesters, known as Red Shirts, do not go home, he will not dissolve parliament as a step toward holding the elections he proposed for November 14.

The Red Shirts have vowed to remain in their barricaded encampment in central Bangkok until Mr. Abhisit sets a specific date for dissolving parliament. Thai law stipulates that parliament must be dissolved 45 to 60 days before an election can be held.

Mr. Abhisit told reporters he may dissolve parliament in the second half of September to enable elections to take place on his proposed date, if the Red Shirts accept his reconciliation plan.

Mr. Abhisit's plan calls for respecting the monarchy, solving problems of economic injustice, an independent body to ensure a free media, a debate on constitutional reform, and an independent investigation of recent political violence.

The Red Shirts have agreed to the reconciliation plan in principle but say they want clarifications from the government, including more specifics on Mr. Abhisit's election offer.

Fighting between the protesters and security forces has killed at least 27 people since the street protests began.

The protesters had demanded 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, ousted in a 2006 coup for alleged corruption.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.