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Bangkok braces for unrest after govt rejects peace plan

[ 2010-04-26 10:58]     字号 [] [] []  
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'Red shirts' block police convoy in northeastern Thailand

The Thai capital braced on Sunday for more unrest after the government rejected a peace overture from anti-government protesters offering to end increasingly violent protests in return for early polls.

The red-shirted supporters of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra said they feared an imminent crackdown, and their leaders threatened more aggressive measures after rescinding an offer to end the protests if the government called elections in 30 days.

The stalemate rekindled fears of more unrest and a heavier toll on Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy as more retailers shut their doors and tourist numbers dwindle.

About 500 km (300 miles) north of Bangkok, hundreds of "red shirts" formed a roadblock in northeastern Udon Thani province and stopped a convoy of 150 police from heading to Bangkok to strengthen security operations, a local official told Reuters.

The police retreated but the red shirts continued to block the road, the official said, raising questions over whether Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva can exert full control over rebellious parts of Thailand as the deadly protests enter a seventh week.

The army is also having to deal with a rogue military element that supports the protesters and is allied with Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and sentenced to prison for corruption after fleeing the country.

Abhisit's six-party coalition government is under intense pressure from upper-class and royalist Thais to rebuff demands from the mostly poor "red shirts". He stuck to an earlier offer to dissolve parliament and call elections in December, a year early.

"There must not be a precedent that allows intimidation to bring about political change," Abhisit said in his weekly television broadcast on Sunday. "Thirty days is out of question. I don't think this problem can be solved within 30 days."

He said the red shirts' peace overture looked insincere, designed only to boost their image and could not be considered amid threats. The protests, he added, were taking a worsening toll on Thailand's economy.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Bangkok braces for unrest after govt rejects peace plan

Bangkok braces for unrest after govt rejects peace plan

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China daily for one year.