Saturday 21 October 2017

Thailand's leader rejects protesters' call to quit

Andrew Buncombe in Bangkok

THAILAND'S prime minister has decided to call the bluff of tens of thousands of red-shirted protesters who have swamped the streets of Bangkok demanding the dissolution of parliament.

As the mass demonstration in Thailand's capital passed its third day, Abhisit Vejjajiva rejected the demonstrators' demands to dissolve the legislature by lunchtime and call new elections. The protesters have now called on supporters to each donate up to 20 teaspoons of blood, which they plan to splatter on the parliament in a symbolic act of protest.

"Asking for the dissolution of parliament before noon in exchange for a halt to the demonstrations, we all agreed it can't be done," the leader said on national television. However, it doesn't mean the government coalition parties and I won't listen to their ideas."

Anywhere up to 100,000 protesters have descended on Bangkok in what they say is a battle for nothing less than Thailand's democracy. Many, though not all, are supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now living in exile after being ousted in a 2006 military coup.

The demonstrators say that when Mr Abhisit took office in late 2008 he did so having been appointed by the parliament rather being popularly elected. As a result, the demonstrators, calling themselves the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, say he has no popular mandate and it is only fair to call a fresh poll. (© Independent News Service, London)

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