Thai protesters keep pressure on PM

PM switches venue of a key policy speech to avoid clashing with protesters.

    Protesters are angry at the dismissal of a pro-Thaksin government earlier this month [Reuters]

    "The urgent measures in the first year are restoring confidence and stimulating the economy," he added.

    More confrontations

    Riot police failed to clear a path through the demonstrators for MPs to enter the parliament building following a two-day siege, and scuffles later broke out between demonstrators and police outside the foreign ministry.

    Loyalists of Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and is  living in exile to avoid a jail term for a corruption conviction,  say Abhisit must stand down and call elections.

    They say his government is not legitimate as he came to power after the Thaksin-linked former ruling party was dissolved by a court this month in a vote fraud case.

    He had been due to give the speech on Monday, but MPs were blocked from entering parliament.

    Avoiding clashes

    Satit Wongnongtaey, a minister in Abhisit's cabinet, told reporters the government had no plans to use force against the protesters.

    The protesters call themselves the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship [Reuters]

    Tuesday's demonstrations were largely peaceful except for some brief scuffles between protesters and police.

    But analysts say the continuing tensions threaten to do further damage to Thailand's virtually moribund tourist industry and other pillars of the economy.

    In October a similar blockade of parliament descended into violence, killing two people and injuring hundreds.

    On that occasion the blockade was mounted by the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) against a pro-Thaksin government.

    The group behind the current protests, which calls itself the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship, is hoping to pressure the government to dissolve the parliament and call snap general elections.

    It says Abhisit – Thailand's third prime minister in the space of just four months - came to power in a virtual coup d'etat.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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