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Thai PM rules out resigning as bombs, gunfire punctuate unrest

BANKOK: Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the target of anti-government protests in Bangkok, has been staying outside the city and on Monday ruled out resigning despite a series of deadly attacks heaping pressure on her administration.

Yingluck, who attended a trade show in Saraburi province, 100 km (60 miles) north of Bangkok, called for dialogue to resolve a crisis that has dragged on for months, with key intersections in the capital blocked by protest camps.

"It's time all sides turned to talk to each other," Yingluck told reporters. "Many people have asked me to resign but I ask: is resignation the answer? What if it creates a power vacuum?"

The protests have been punctuated by gunfire and bomb blasts, including one on Sunday that killed a woman and a young brother and sister.

They are aimed at unseating Yingluck and erasing the influence of her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is seen by many as the power behind the government.

Yingluck's office would not confirm how many days Yingluck had been working outside the capital.

She was last seen in public in Bangkok nearly a week ago, last Tuesday, when both anti-government protesters and farmers angry about not being paid under a rice subsidy scheme were trailing her and some of her ministers.

She is due to attend a corruption hearing in Bangkok on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said Yingluck would hold a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

"It is highly likely that we will hold the cabinet meeting outside of Bangkok," Surapong told reporters.

The political crisis, which pits the mainly middle-class anti-government demonstrators from Bangkok and the south against supporters of Yingluck from the populous rural north and northeast, shows no sign of ending soon.

But the army, which toppled Thaksin in 2006 in the latest of 18 coups or attempted coups since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, said it would not interfere.

"Somebody has to take responsibility but that doesn't mean soldiers can intervene without working under the framework (of the law)," army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a rare televised address, also calling for dialogue.

"How can we be sure that if we use soldiers, the situation will return to peace?"

Source: Reuters




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