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PM Samak holds out amidst resignation rumours

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Thailand political turmoil:
PM Samak holds out amidst resignation rumours

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej denied speculations of his resignation in a national radio broadcast Thursday morning saying it is important for him to stay on as prime minister to safeguard Thailand's democracy, to uphold the rule of law and to retain the confidence of the international community, Kyodo and Associated Press reports said.

Samak also said he has no intention of dissolving the House of Representatives.

"I am not resigning. I have to protect the democracy of this country," said Samak, who has not been able to enter his office since the protesters set up camp on the grounds of Government House on August 26. But he added, to "resign won't mean anything, even if I dissolve the Parliament."

News of the planned radio broadcast leaked Wednesday night, fueling speculation that Samak's resignation was imminent. The front-page of the English-language Nation newspaper ran with the banner headline Thursday: "Samak on the Brink of Exit."

On Wednesday, Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag resigned, a move widely viewed as a sign that Samak was losing support from his own government.

Samak said Tej, a respected diplomat who was appointed to his post July 27 to help ease political tensions, had been "pressured by many sides" and that his wife was not well.

The ongoing protests have been organised by the People's Alliance for Democracy, which has already forced one prime minister from power - staging protests in 2006 that paved the way for the bloodless coup that removed Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin, a telecommunications tycoon, recently fled to Britain to escape corruption charges. The protesters say Samak is Thaksin's stooge and is running the government for him by proxy.

The army chief, Gen Anupong Paochinda, has insisted the military will not stage a new coup. Anupong also has made it clear that if troops are ordered into Bangkok's streets, they will be armed only with riot shields and batons, and will not use force - roughly the same position taken by Samak since the crisis began.

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