Thai prime minister dismisses offer by anti-government protesters

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thailand's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has ruled out a compromise offer by anti-government protest leaders for parliament to be dissolved in thirty days, with elections to be held in 90 days.

File photo of Abhisit Vejjajiva

In a televised address on Sunday, with army chief General Anupong Paochinda at his side, the prime minister dismissed the offer made by the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), saying such issues could not be resolved in such a short period of time, and "because they use violence and intimidation. I cannot accept this."

Abhisit said the government stood by an offer made during earlier talks with the UDD for the house to be dissolved within the next nine months.

In reaction, the UDD, also called the Red Shirts, maintained an earlier call for parliament to be dissolved immediately. The UDD also withdrew from any further negotiations with the government. UDD leaders have repeatedly warned supporters rallying in central Bangkok's retail and business areas of the threat of a new government crackdown.

There have been two large incidents of street violence in the past month or so, resulting in 26 deaths and injuries to hundreds of people. The Red Shirts primarily consist of supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 coup. He was later given a two-year prison term on charges of corruption, although Shinawatra left the country in self-exile to avoid being jailed.