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Thai Prime Minister rejects ultimatum
Bangkok, Mar 15 (Agencies):
Published on 15 Mar. 2010 11:53 PM IST
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Thailand’s Prime Minister has rejected an ultimatum by tens of thousands of protesters to resign. The protesters are the so called Red Shirt supporters of the ousted Prime Minister Thakin Shinawatra. They have surrounded an army barracks in Bangkok where the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva The Thai military says two soldiers have been wounded in a grenade attack at a barracks near the site of the massive anti government protest. Thailand’s prime minister, backed by the military, has rejected an ultimatum to dissolve parliament as tens of thousands of protesters vowed to continue their push to remove the government. They later set another deadline, threatening to pour a million cubic centimetres of blood drawn from their ranks at Government House, the seat of government, if their renewed demand was rejected. “The blood will be taken from the body and democratic soul of the Red Shirts,” said a protest leader, Nutthawut Saikua, referring to the popular name for the protesters. In the first reported violence of the protests, two soldiers were wounded when four grenades exploded inside an army headquarters ringed by the demonstrators. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the key target of the massive demonstration, earlier said he could not give in to the protesters’ demand to dissolve Parliament by midday but left room for compromise. The demonstrators marshalled around the heavily defended 11th Infantry Regiment headquarters where Abhisit has been based, but after the deadline passed they began a march back to their main encampment. “Asking for the dissolution of Parliament before noon in exchange for a halt to the demonstrations, we all agreed it can’t be done. However, it doesn’t mean the government coalition parties and I won’t listen to their ideas,” Abhisit said on nationwide television. Around 100,000 Red Shirt protesters have been camped out along a boulevard in the old part of Bangkok. A force of more than 50,000 soldiers, police and other security personnel has been mobilised in the capital area. “Our goal is not to remain entrenched in the government. Like all Thais, we’d like to see the country move forward,” Abhisit said. “The government must listen to the demonstrators. Although the demand can’t be met by noon, we are willing to hear what they say.” Thailand has been in constant political turmoil since early 2006, when demonstrations against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra began. In 2008, when Thaksin’s political allies came back to power for a year, his opponents occupied the prime minister’s office compound for three months and seized Bangkok’s two airports for a week. The red-shirt protest leaders insist their movement is non-violent. They say they are prepared to stay in the capital for five days, to pressure the government into calling new elections. The military has been given extra powers to impose curfews and restrict numbers at gatherings if necessary. The last major protests, in April 2009, turned violent, with two deaths and dozens of people injured.

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