Thai PM rejects calls for his resignation

The Thai prime minister rejected calls for his resignation by thousands of anti-government protesters who ringed his office for a second day today in a boisterous rally.

Supporters of deposed former leader Thaksin Shinawatra have surrounded the government's main office since yesterday. The demonstrators say Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjavija's government came to power three months ago through illegal means and are demanding a dissolution of Parliament and fresh elections.



Police estimated about 30,000 people protested outside Government House yesterday evening.



Some 5,000 demonstrators gathered today as leaders took to the stage to denounce the government.



More were expected to join the throng in the evening to hear Thaksin, currently in self-imposed exile, make a televised broadcast from a secret location abroad.



The protest is the latest episode in Thailand's protracted political turmoil, which last year saw months of protests by Thaksin's opponents.



Abhisit said he does not expect the protests to turn violent. Other demonstrations have been generally peaceful.



"Whether to resign or not resign is a political matter within the system," Abhisit told reporters at his Democrat Party's headquarters. "Right now, the situation remains normal."



The prime minister avoided his office today but said he planned to return on Monday and rejected talk that his government will set up a temporary headquarters as the previous administration did last year to avoid protesters.



"There is no preparation for that," Abhisit told reporters. "We are still operating normally."



Thaksin's supporters are using the same people-power method as their rivals. Last year, anti-Thaksin protesters brought the previous government to a virtual standstill when they besieged the Government House for three months and occupied Bangkok's two main airports for one week, damaging Thailand's vital tourism industry.



The "red-shirts," as the pro-Thaksin supporters are commonly known because of their favoured colour, have vowed to remain outside Government House at least through the weekend. But they said they would not break into the compound as their rivals did.



"We will protest until the illegitimate government is gone. We have to stop them from causing more damage to Thai democracy," said a protest leader, Nattawut Sai-kua. "We will stay for as long as we need to get the job done."



Today's protest mixed fiery speeches with a carnival-like atmosphere. The demonstrators sang and danced on the streets during breaks from political speeches. Free food and beverages were provided.



Protesters parked trucks at intersections and blocked roads with cargo containers in an attempt to keep government workers out of the compound.



Abhisit was voted in by Parliament in December after a court dissolved the party leading the previous government, which was packed with Thaksin's allies.



Protesters say the court decisions were political and biased against the deposed leader's allies.



Thaksin, who remains popular in the countryside, fled into exile last year and has been convicted in absentia of violating a conflict of interest law.



He made a brief phone call that was broadcast to the rally last night. He said he was calling from Africa.



"I want to thank you, brothers and sisters, who are here to defend democracy," he said to loud cheers from protesters. "Without democracy, there will never be progress."



He was ousted in a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption and abuse of power.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television The BBC have commissioned a series of programmes doing away with high-production values, commentary, script or drama
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable