Thailand’s prime minister rejected scaled—back demands on Saturday that he dissolve Parliament in 30 days, prompting anti—government protesters to pull out of negotiations and dashing hopes for an imminent resolution to the country’s political crisis.
The confrontation between protesters and the government they claim took power illegitimately has grown increasing hostile and recently descended into bloody street violence.
The protesters, known as the Red Shirts, had previously demanded Parliament be immediately dissolved, but softened that stance on Friday, offering the government 30 days to disband the legislature in a move they said was aimed at preventing further bloodshed.
But the Thai PBS television station quoted Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying he was rejecting the proposal.
Nattawut Saikua, a top Red Shirt leader, said that with their compromise rebuffed, there was no point in continuing the talks.
“These negotiations will stop. We will not talk anymore,” he said.
Other protest leaders said that if no compromise was reached they would continue their demonstrations in the Bangkok commercial district they have transformed into a protest camp, paralyzing business and daily life in the city.
Many in the capital have grown weary of the confrontation and the disruptions, and thousands of so—called multi-colour protesters gathered at a park on Saturday to demand the protests end. “Please stop the mob - I want a normal life,” read one sign at the protest.
Confrontations between government forces and rival camps of protesters have resulted in 26 deaths and almost 1,000 wounded.
On Thursday, one person was killed after five grenades hit an area where rival protesters had gathered to hurl insults and rocks at the Red Shirts.
Red Shirt leaders said they held unofficial negotiations on Wednesday and Friday, and claimed the government expressed a willingness to compromise, suggesting it could dissolve the government in three months instead of the six on which it originally insisted.
The Red Shirts consist mainly of rural supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and pro—democracy activists who opposed the military coup that ousted him in 2006. They believe Abhisit’s government is illegitimate because it came to power under military pressure through a parliamentary vote after disputed court rulings ousted two elected pro—Thaksin governments.
Since the beginning of the crisis, Mr. Abhisit’s government has threatened to curtail the protests but has failed to follow through. Military units from the 200,000—strong army have been routed in several confrontations with the crudely armed demonstrators. The police have often melted when faced with determined protesters.