- Title: THAILAND: Embattled Thai PM rejects calls for snap elections
- Date: 20th April 2010
- Summary: BANGKOK, THAILAND (APRIL 19, 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF THAI SOLDIERS POSTED ON SILOM STREET VARIOUS OF ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTERS SITTING AROUND GATHERED BAMBOO STICKS MAN WAVING THAI FLAG SIGN CRITICISING THAI PRIME MINISTER, ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS CHEERING PICKUP TRUCK CARRYING TYRES VARIOUS OF ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTERS UNLOADING TYRES AND USING THEM FOR BARRICADE SOLDIER POSTED NEAR HIGH RISE BUILDINGS SOLDIER LOOKING AT PROTESTERS HOLE FROM WHERE SOLDIER LOOKS AT PROTESTERS
- Embargoed: 5th May 2010 13:00
- Location: Thailand
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAC4SPQ3AVGDAXQLQAS27159USS
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Embattled Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva continued to rebuff demands for immediate elections on Monday (April 19), which he would almost certainly lose, saying on Thai television the red shirts must be brought under control.
"If we allow those who use force to threaten political change, we will have a lawless country," he said.
Tensions are building in the Thai capital as troops armed with machine guns rushed to Bangkok's business district to prevent thousands of anti-government protesters from marching to a bank linked to a royal adviser, raising fears of fresh violence.
The army said soldiers could use force to stop red-shirted supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra from carrying out a threat to march to the Silom Road office district from a luxury shopping area they have occupied for more than two weeks.
"The priority task of the government is to deal with this group of illegal armed men. At the same time we will do our duty to respond to legitimate demands from the protesters." Abhisit added.
The government says a group of gunmen were concealed in the red shirt protesters and fired on troops during the clashes on the night of April 10 in order to incite a civil war. 25 people, including protesters, troops and a Reuters cameraman were killed.
Hundreds of troops converged in the Silom Road area before dawn, erecting barbed wire around the headquarters of Bangkok Bank, Thailand's biggest bank and a red shirt target.
Bangkok Bank's honorary adviser, Prem Tinsulanonda, is accused of masterminding a 2006 coup that toppled Thaksin. The top aide to the Thai monarch is also seen by the mostly poor "red shirts" as a symbol of an unelected elite meddling in politics.
The deployment of troops comes three days after army chief General Anupong Paochinda was appointed head of national security in the wake of several failed security operations, including last week's deadly clash, without ending the crisis.
Along Silom Road, which is also home to Bangkok's racy Patpong district of go-go bars, soldiers stood behind metal barricades facing hundreds of protesters, who had stockpiled poles and clubs behind their lines and built bunkers and barricades with truck tyres.
Analysts say the six-week protest has evolved into a dangerous standoff between the army and a rogue military faction that supports the red shirts and includes retired generals allied with twice-elected and now fugitive former premier Thaksin.
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