Anti-government demonstrators have ended their three-week siege of Government House in Bangkok, our correspondent on the scene says. Red-shirted leaders have given themselves up to police following Monday’s deadly clashes.
Anti-government protesters walked away from Government House in Bangkok on Tuesday after Thai troops surrounded them overnight and seemed poised to drive them out.
According to a Bangkok police chief, four red-shirted leaders have agreed to hand themselves in to police and face charges of violating a state of emergency which banned all large gatherings.
Protest leaders say they urged followers to disperse to save their lives but say they have not dropped their calls to see former premier Thaksin Shinawatra return from exile.
"We held talks among the leaders since last night and have agreed that we will disperse our protesters for a while," Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, one of the core protest leaders, told AFP.
"The reason that we have decided to disperse is because we want to avert any loss of life. Our protesters really want to fight and sacrifice themselves so we wanted to prevent a catastrophe," she said.
The red-shirted protesters are demanding the resignation of PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, just four months after he was appointed to head the government. The premier has refused to step down, urging demonstrators to go home.
On Sunday, PM Abhisit issued an emergency decree after the “red shirts” forced the cancellation of an ASEAN summit scheduled for Saturday.
Two dead in clashes on Monday
On Monday, morning clashes between demonstrators and troops at a key city intersection left two people dead and 113 injured, according to AFP. Troops tear-gassed protesters and shot volleys of bullets in the air as they advanced through the streets. Meanwhile, demonstrators sent buses and threw Molotov cocktails and rocks into military lines.
Thailand's intractable political crisis broadly pits royalists, the military and the urban middle-class against the rural poor loyal to Thaksin. Analysts say that even if this week's violence subsides, the country's deep divisions will remain.
Date created : 2009-04-14