Related News

Home » World

Protesters give Thai PM two weeks to step down

THOUSANDS of protesters marched on Thailand's seat of government yesterday, delivering an ultimatum to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to call elections within 15 days or face bigger street demonstrations.

Thai media said 30,000 supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) were at Government House, which was occupied for three months last year by the royalist People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a rival protest group.

UDD leaders told the crowd they did not want to cause trouble or storm the compound, suggesting there would be no violence.

Instead, they said they would deliver a letter telling Abhisit to sack his foreign minister for being a cheerleader for the PAD, prosecute PAD leaders for their occupation of Government House and Bangkok's two airports last year, and call new elections.

UDD leaders said more, larger street protests would ensue if Abhisit did not heed their demands within two weeks.

Police had positioned more than 5,000 officers around the compound in Bangkok's old town but, as with marches by the PAD, the police lines melted away in the face of the massed ranks of protesters.

Before the march, police chiefs said they would not use force.

Speaking to Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Abhisit said he had no problem with peaceful, legal protest.

"We respect their rights to demonstrate peacefully," he said. "It's fine if there's no violence."

Broadly speaking, the UDD oppose the 2006 coup that removed billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The PAD played an integral part in the putsch, as well as the political upheaval that put paid to two elected pro-Thaksin governments last year.

The UDD accuse Abhisit of being a stooge of the army and the PAD, a charge he denies. His foreign minister, Kasit Piromyas, was regular speaker at PAD rallies.

The march ends a month of relative calm in Thailand's three-year political crisis, which has distracted policymakers from dealing with an economy teetering on the brink of recession.

Analysts say the outlook for political stability remains bleak as long as the rift between Bangkok's royalist military and business elite, who accuse Thaksin of corruption, and rural voters who loved his populist policies, remains unresolved.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend