Govt dismisses talks to end Thai protests

38 dead in six days of violence

Govt dismisses talks to end Thai protests

As talks unravelled, fighting erupted again in the Din Daeng district north of a central Bangkok shopping area occupied for six weeks by protesters seeking to topple Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who they accuse of subverting democracy.

Troops fired warning shots as protesters burned tyres and hurled petrol bombs, but the violence was substantially less intense than in recent days.
Several thousand protesters, who have adopted red as a protest colour and support former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, remain in a barricaded encampment in Bangkok’s shopping diplomatic district, refusing to leave, though looking visibly worn down.
‘Democracy first’

“Sure I want to go home but I want democracy first,” said Chamlat Ladlao, a protester in his 50s from central Lopburi province. “I’d rather stay here, be proud and die fighting than die in my village when I’m old.”

Government officials criticised a proposal from a group of 64 senators in the 150-member upper house who have offered to mediate peace talks and have urged a ceasefire.
Satit Wongnongtaey, minister to the prime minister, said talks could only take place if the red shirts end their protest — a condition the protesters have rejected. “The government says we can only negotiate when the protest ends,” he said.
The mostly rural and urban poor “red shirts” accuse the British-born, Oxford-educated Abhisit of lacking a popular mandate after coming to power in a controversial parliamentary vote in 2008 with tacit backing from the military.

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