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Pressure mounts on PM as protests delayed

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October 13, 2008

Thailand Political Stalemate:
Pressure mounts on PM as protests delayed

Thailand’s Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has come under mounting pressure since deadly clashes between police and anti-government protesters nearly a week ago, but said in a national television address he was staying on for the moment, reported AFP.

Tension in the capital over possible repeat of clashes between police and protesters, or between the pro- and anti-government groups has eased since the People Alliance for Democracy (PAD) delayed the protest in front of the police headquarters in Bangkok planned for today (Monday, October 13).

However, Prime Minister Somchai is facing increasing pressure to either resign or dissolve the parliament.

"Many people have called on the government to dissolve the House or for the prime minister to resign. I'm not stuck on being prime minister if (my resignation) can help solve the problems. But I'm not confident it can solve the problems now ... we should find the real solution," said the embattled premier Sunday.

He said that the country should be focusing on dealing with the fallout from the global economic crisis, and preparing for royal events and a regional summit toward the end of the year.

Months-long protests against the government boiled over into violence last Tuesday, when police unleashed tear gas on rowdy protesters trying to stop a session of parliament in Bangkok's historic district.

Two people were killed and nearly 500 injured in the resulting chaos.

Thai army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda has called on the government to show responsibility for the crackdown on the PAD protesters.

The PAD have vowed to march to the national police headquarters in Bangkok on Monday to protest the recent crackdown, but the anti-government protest group delayed the march shortly before schedule.

Meanwhile, the prime minister is reportedly facing a corruption charge which could result in his dismissal from office. Local Englsih-language daily Bangkok Post in a news commentary said the National Counter Corruption Commission, Thailand’s corruption watchdog, is set to issue a verdict on Wednesday or Thursday on a decade-long malfeasance case against the prime minister.     

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