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Thai protest leader refuses to compromise

Suthep Thaugsuban, whose supporters are trying to topple the government, says there will be no negotiations.

Last updated: 13 Jan 2014 20:36
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The leader of Thai protesters trying to bring the capital Bangkok to a standstill and topple the government said there will be no negotiations and no compromise.

The statements of Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister, came as thousands of his supporters blocked key road junctions and a number of government ministries in what they are calling the Bangkok Shutdown.

"Whoever is thinking about negotiations, compromise, hoping for a win-win situation, a win for both sides; I tell you now there is no win-win, there can only be one winner," Thaugsuban told thousands of supporters on Monday.

The firebrand opposition politician faces a murder charge in connection with a deadly military crackdown on political protests when he was deputy prime minister in 2010.

Protesters want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down to make way for an appointed government that would oversee electoral reforms to curb the political dominance of her billionaire family and tackle a wider culture of money politics.

Earlier on Monday, Shinawatra invited leaders of anti-government protesters and political parties to discuss an Election Commission proposal to push back the date of the snap election she called from February 2, a senior aide said.

Ministers have until now said a delay would be impossible under the constitution, but the Election Commission has said it could be pushed back and one member has suggested May 4.

'Fed up with corruption'

Authorities say they are ready to declare a state of emergency if there is fresh unrest, and roughly 20,000 police and soldiers will be deployed for security.

But they have not tried to stop the demonstrators taking over parts of the city in the run-up to the February 2 elections, which they have set out to disrupt.

The protesters have vowed to stop officials going to work and cut off power to key state offices as part of the shutdown efforts, which authorities have warned could lead to further bloodshed.

"My generation is fed up with corruption in the country," Marisa Buerkle, an anti-government protester, told Al Jazeera. "We don’t care who will lead it in the future. Just as long as they are not corrupt."

Eight people, including a policeman, have been killed and dozens injured in street violence since the protests began over two months ago.

The current political crisis is the latest chapter in a saga of political instability and periodic unrest that has gripped Thailand since Yingluck's older brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by royalist generals seven years ago.

The billionaire tycoon-turned-politician, who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption, has large electoral support particularly in northern Thailand, where he is adored for a swathe of popular policies.

But he is reviled among the country's elites and by many in the Bangkok middle class and Thai south, who see him as authoritarian and accuse him of buying votes.

The latest impasse has revived fears of a judicial or military ousting of the government, in a country which has seen 18 actual or attempted coups since 1932.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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