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Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has rejected an offer by
anti-government protesters to end their occupation of central Bangkok
if he dissolved parliament within 30 days.
Mr. Abhisit said in a televised statement Saturday he will not
negotiate with the so-called Red Shirts because they use violence and
The protesters Friday softened their previous demand for immediate
dissolution of parliament followed by elections. But after Mr.
Abhisit's rejection, protesters say the demonstration will continue.
Most of them are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, who was ousted in 2006. They want new elections to replace
Mr. Abhisit, who they say came to power illegitimately.
Weeks of protests have paralyzed Bangkok's main tourist and retail hub, causing millions of dollars in revenue loss.
Citizens and businessmen, tired of disorder and violence, have banded together to drive the Red Shirts out of the city.
The new "multicolored" coalition also includes members of the so-called Yellow Shirts, who support Prime Minister Abhisit.
On April 10, a clash between the Red Shirts and Thai security forces left at least 25 people dead and 850 others injured.
A series of grenade blasts Thursday killed one person near the protest
site. The government has blamed protesters for launching the grenades,
but the protesters deny any involvement.
The United Nations and the United States have urged the government and the protesters to work out their issues peacefully.
Mr. Abhisit came to power in December 2008, after months of massive
anti-Thaksin protests, which included brief takeovers of two Bangkok
airports by the Yellow Shirts.
Former Prime Minister Thaksin was ousted in 2006 after corruption
charges were brought against him. He lives in exile and faces a prison
sentence in Thailand. He has a significant following among the
country's rural and low-income population.