Thai army in bid to oust protesters

Thailand's army said today it would begin limiting supplies of water, food and electricity to protesters camped in central Bangkok in a bid to clear the streets by midnight.

Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said security forces "will not use force at this stage", raising concerns of more violence in Thailand's two-month political stand-off if the protesters refused to disperse.

The new measures were announced a day after prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva warned protesters to leave by today.

Meanwhile the chances of a negotiated settlement to the protests appeared to be unravelling.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said earlier that the prime minister had withdrawn his compromise offer to hold early elections on November 14 as part of a reconciliation plan.

He said Abhisit Vejjajiva had now issued instructions for quickly dealing with the so-called Red Shirt demonstrators who are occupying a central commercial district in Bangkok to press their demands.

Asked whether this implied a new crackdown by security forces, Mr Panitan said last night: "The prime minister has already handed out some guidelines. Tomorrow they will be implemented."

The protests have paralysed a central portion of Bangkok that is home to several glitzy malls and luxury hotels, devastating the economy, particularly the vital tourism sector.

Last week Mr Abhisit told the Red Shirts - mostly poor rural Thais who view his government as illegitimate - that he was willing to hold new polls in November, more than a year before the end of his government's term.

That was presented as part of a reconciliation package if the demonstrators would end their protest and seen as the way out of the crisis.

The Red Shirts, who have been pressing for quick elections, said they agreed in principle, but gradually added a list of conditions of their own including that Mr Abhisit and his top deputy surrender to police over an April 10 attempt by security forces to disperse protesters that left 25 people dead.

"If petty issues keep being brought up, it's not going to end because the government isn't going to compromise," Mr Abhisit told reporters, adding that people's patience with the demonstrators had frayed due to the hardships and losses they had suffered.

"What is essential right now is to return normalcy to society," he said.

Mr Panitan said the initial conditional election offer had now been withdrawn.

"Their refusal to stop the protest meant that the conditions that were set are being cancelled, including the election date," he said.

Mr Abhisit took the new stand after demonstrators insisted earlier that they would continue their protest despite deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban reporting to Thailand's equivalent to the FBI and the government saying both leaders were willing to submit themselves to judicial processes.

But the protesters - formally known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship - said the gesture was not enough. They want the leaders - particularly Mr Suthep, who heads the security agency whose mandate is to suppress their protest - charged with manslaughter or similar offences.

No criminal charges have been filed against either of the men.

Several violent incidents related to the Red Shirt protest have killed 29 people and wounded more than 1,400, according to a health ministry announcement on Monday.

More than two dozen Red Shirt leaders already face a variety of charges, ranging from breaking the terms of a state of emergency to weapons offences and assaults on government officials.

The most serious charges, related to disruption of public transport services, infrastructure and telecommunications, are covered by terrorism statutes and are punishable by up to 20 years in jail and £15,500 fines. No-one has been arrested despite multiple attempts by police to serve warrants.

The Red Shirts include the rural and urban poor as well as pro-democracy advocates who see Oxford-educated Mr Abhisit as symbolic of an elite insensitive to the plight of most Thais.

Many are supporters of former prime minister and Manchester City FC owner Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist leader who was accused of charged with corruption and abuse of power and ousted in a 2006 military coup.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?