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Thaksin joins in PM's resign call

DEPOSED former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra demanded yesterday that Thailand's government resign, echoing the calls of his supporters who have surrounded the prime minister's office compound for two days.

Thaksin spoke via video link from self-imposed exile, his image broadcast on a giant screen outside Government House.

The demonstrators say Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government came to power through illegal means and should step down so new elections can be held.

Prime Minister Abhisit has rejected their calls.

"Let's start again. Dissolve the Parliament and call fresh elections," Thaksin said to raucous cheers from the crowd. "This way the country can move past the crisis."

"We want to see true democracy in Thailand. We want to see justice," said Thaksin, who fled into exile last year and has been convicted in absentia of violating a conflict of interest law.

Thaksin regularly speaks to supporters via video link from overseas, surfacing in numerous countries around Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.

This week's protests are the latest episode in Thailand's long-running political turmoil, which last year saw months of demonstrations by Thaksin's political opponents, who besieged the Government House and occupied Bangkok's two main airports, damaging Thailand's vital tourism industry.

Abhisit said he does not expect the protests to turn violent. Other demonstrations have been generally peaceful.

"Whether to resign or not resign is a political matter within the system," Abhisit told reporters at his Democrat Party's headquarters yesterday. "Right now, the situation remains normal."

The prime minister avoided his office yesterday but said he planned to return on Monday and rejected talk that his government will set up a temporary headquarters as the previous administration did last year to avoid protesters.


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