Thai PM Samak refuses to resign (updated)
As streets protests continue to rock urban Thailand and after meeting King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thai Prime Minister and leader of the People's Power Party Samak Sundaravej confirmed his intention to remain in power. "The protests against Mr Samak's government are being led by a conservative group called the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)". PAD demonstrators have accused PM Samak of being "a front for the exiled former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra" who faces corruption charges. "PAD was originally formed in the months before the 2006 coup, to demand Mr Thaksin's resignation".PAD its led by a combination of conservative forces: media-mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, local conservative politician Chamlong Srimuang, and General Saprang Kalayanamitr. Current protests remain an urban phenomena as PAD has little support in rural Thailand.
BANGKOK, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The six parties led by the People Power Party (PPP) in Thailand's coalition government on Saturday vowed to remain united and carry on its duties in face of continuous, disobedient anti-government protests. Party leaders or representatives of the six coalition parties attended a news conference on Saturday night at a Bangkok hotel after holding a parties' meeting to announce that their coalition remained strong and the government would carry on its duties despite the seizure of the Government House by thousands of protesters led by the civil political coalition People's Alliance for Democracy. The PPP was represented by Deputy Minister and Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee, who is also secretary-general of the PPP, and First Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister: Somchai Wongsawat, PPP deputy leader. PPP leader and Prime Minister Samak was absent from the event. Surapong shrugged off the protesters' occupation of the Government House since Tuesday as a "minor problem" that he said would not affect the government's work in running the country, which he described as successful and proper.
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has said he will not resign, despite mounting anti-government protests. Mr Samak earlier held an unexpected meeting with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who normally stays above politics. Thousands of protesters continue to occupy government offices in Bangkok, three regional airports remain closed, and rail travel has been disrupted. The protesters accuse the government of being a front for the exiled former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006 and has fled the country to avoid facing trial over corruption charges.
As the political unrest continued across Thailand on Friday, Mr Samak flew to the coastal town of Hua Hin to meet King Bhumibol at his palace there, officials said. The BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok says the king normally keeps out of political squabbles, but what started as a last-ditch attempt to force out the prime minister by a die-hard group of protestors, has in the space of 24 hours turned into a national crisis.
Earlier, military and government sources told the BBC that the army commander, Gen Anupong Paochinda, who until this week had stood by the prime minister, had told him he had no choice but to resign.
But in a televised ceremony honouring the royal family in the capital on Saturday, Mr Samak again reiterated his refusal to step down, saying he had been elected to office. "I will never resign in response to these threats," he said, to cheers from the crowd. The protests against Mr Samak's government are being led by a conservative group called the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD). On Tuesday, thousands of PAD supporters took to the streets of Bangkok and forced their way into government buildings. Mr Samak was initially praised for his restraint in dealing with the protests, but he suddenly found his position weakened on Friday when the police pulled back and the triumphant protest leaders were left in control of the government complex. The PAD was originally formed in the months before the 2006 coup, to demand Mr Thaksin's resignation. It has re-emerged now that the country is being led by his former ally Mr Samak. It has a passionate following in various parts of the country, especially Bangkok, and some powerful backers among the elite, our correspondent says.
But it has little support in most of rural Thailand, which voted strongly for Prime Minister Samak, and Mr Thaksin before him.