BANGKOK: The embattled Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, is reported to be considering caving in to the demands of protesters and calling an early election for October.But it may not be enough to satisfy the increasingly confident protesters, known as Red Shirts, who demand Mr Abhisit resign immediately and leave Thailand.An unnamed source from the ruling Democrat Party told the Bangkok Post an early election might be called if it could guarantee peace on the streets of Bangkok.But he said it was important Mr Abhisit did not ”lose face” by being seen to acquiesce wholly to the protesters’ demands.”There is no decision [yet] on early elections but it is [being] considered,” the party official said. ”We will see how the situation progresses this week and then a decision may be made one way or the other. It’s a fine balance. Early elections may calm things down but we don’t want to show that we are giving in to the demands of an armed gang.”The constitution obliges Mr Abhisit to call an election by the end of next year. In previous negotiations he has offered to go to the polls in nine months, a proposal rejected by the Red Shirts.But the weekend’s violence, in which 21 people were killed and more than 800 injured when petrol bombs were thrown at troops and live rounds fired into crowds of protesters in pitched battles across the city, has sharpened the government’s desire for an early poll as a possible solution to the stand-off.The Thai king appears unlikely to step in to resolve the impasse.The revered but ailing King Bhumibol, who has been on the throne for 64 years, has previously called on warring parties in Thailand’s regular political crises to come together peacefully to negotiate.But it seems after nearly a month of protests, the 82-year-old monarch, who is advised by a council made up mainly of retired army generals, will not intervene in the current crisis.After the violence of Saturday, there have been two days of uneasy peace on the streets of Bangkok. On Khao San Road, less than a kilometre from where the protesters fought lethal battles with the military, foreign tourists fought their own battle, using water pistols against an elephant in the annual Songkran water festival to mark the Thai new year.Elsewhere, the Red Shirts, as promised, marched through the capital carrying 15 coffins, representing their comrades killed in the weekend’s violence.They marched peacefully on Mr Abhisit’s home near Sukhumvit Road – he is currently staying in an army barracks safe house – before returning to the protest site they have occupied for a month at Phan Fa Bridge, in the old part of the city.The Red Shirts still occupy Bangkok’s commercial hub, Ratchaprasong, but train services have resumed in the area and most shops have reopened.While they are still on the streets in their tens of thousands, controlling traffic and movement around key intersections, there are few police, and all soldiers have returned to barracks.
Nanjing Night Net