Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thai Government Vows Action as Red Shirts Block Train

Protesters briefly forced Bangkok's elevated railway system to shut on Tuesday, paralysing traffic, and the government warned of tougher operations to quell growing unrest in a seven-week crisis that has killed 26 people.

Thailand's revered but ailing 82-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, regarded as the nation's sole unifying figure, spoke publicly late on Monday for the first time since the turmoil erupted in his kingdom.

He did not directly address the political stalemate, telling the newly sworn-in judges to perform their duty honestly and provide examples to the public. In the past, including a bloody conflict in 1992, he stepped in as an arbiter to bring peace.

Hopes for an end to the standoff were dashed at the weekend when Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva rejected a proposal by the protesters for an election in three months, saying an immediate poll could turn violent and refusing to negotiate under threat.

Anti-government protesters said they planned to go on the offensive on Wednesday with daily mobile rallies across Bangkok, a provocative move in defiance of a state of emergency that could lead to clashes with troops or with rival protest groups.

The red shirts had set up roadblocks this week on several highways to prevent police and troops from coming into Bangkok.

"Authorities will step up operations," Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuangsuban told reporters. "It is clear that the protesters are not gathering peacefully," he added.

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/04/27/world/international-uk-thailand.html?_r=1

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