Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thai prime minister vows to stay on

Thailand's prime minister will not resign, a spokesman said Saturday, despite escalating street protests that threaten his coalition's hold on power in the southeast Asian country. Samak Sundaravej appears under attack because of his link to his populist predecessor, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was forced from power by the military two years ago. Thailand's middle class, upset by what they perceive as Samak's populist rhetoric, have been demonstrating in Bangkok since May. "It's impossible that Prime Minister Samak will resign," said Kuthep Saikrajang, a spokesman for the People Power Party, leader of a six-party coalition that was elected in December, according to the Reuters international news service. "The government will not resign and there will be no house dissolution," Kuthep said, responding to a newspaper report that the country's army chief had urged Samak to dissolve parliament to end the protests. But protesters, led by the People's Alliance for Democracy party, pledged to continue the demonstrations. "I don't know what will happen in the next one or two days, but our mission is still the same," said retired general Chamlong Srimuang, a PAD leader who helped lead the 2006 protests that led to Thaksin's ouster, according to Reuters. "We came here to tell them to get out."

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