Thaksin rebuffs resignation calls while elite call for appointed PM

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Monday, March 6, 2006

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Beleaguered Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra may have offered to speak with entrenched opponents such as the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), but defiantly refuses to give them the satisfaction of him resigning unconditionally. Instead Thaksin has promised not to take office if his Thai Rak Thai party gets fewer than 50% of the votes. With the three main opposition parties boycotting the election, a mass abstention would be required to force the PM out in this way.

Protests led by Chamlong Srimuang's Dharma Army foundation are reportedly going to continue until the caretaker PM resigns. The former Bangkok governor led a popular but bloody revolt against the military government of General Suchinda Kraprayoon in 1992; he is now one of the prominent figures staking out Sanam Luang, calling for the resignation of Thaksin, and vowing to stay until he goes. The kick-off of this extended protest was on Sunday, with protesters from southern provinces arriving as early as 11am for a protest that saw Thailand's The Nation reporting 60,000 present for a march to the Democracy monument and on to government house.

Attacks from other directions have come alongside the mass-protests. 96 members of Bangkok's elite have put their names to a petition to go before the King. Calling for the invocation of Section 7 of the constitution to appoint an interim Prime Minister, signatories include a former central bank governor, former ambassadors, and more than a dozen senators.

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