Monday, May 3, 2010

Thai "Red Shirts" Ignore New Government Threats

Anti-government protesters in the Thai capital showed no sign of leaving the city's main shopping district on Monday despite warnings of new "clashes and losses" during a two-month crisis that has already killed 27 people.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva warned thousands of red shirted protesters there was a risk of further trouble if they did not leave the upscale Bangkok shopping district where they have been barricaded for a month.

Speaking in parliament on Monday, he added the government hoped to avoid violence and resolve the impasse through talks.

"The government and I are determined to seek reconciliation and we will not give up," he said.

Abhisit is under intense pressure to end the two-month stalemate that has choked off tourism, paralysed Bangkok, shut major department stores and stoked concerns of civil unrest. The finance minister said last week the protests could cut economic growth by 2 percentage points if they continued all year.

Thailand's financial markets, closed for a market holiday on Monday, have underperformed regional peers since April 10, when the protest turned deadly with a gunbattle in the heart of old Bangkok that killed 25 people and wounded more than 800.

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