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PM turns to parliament in bid to end protests

Article published on the 2008-08-31 Latest update 2008-08-31 16:12 TU

Samak addresses parliament(Photo: Reuters)

Samak addresses parliament
(Photo: Reuters)

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej called an emergency meeting of parliament on Sunday to try and end anti-government protests, which have seen government compounds occupied. Three airports which had been closed by protesters were operating again Sunday.

"We cannot let the situation in the country go on like this," Samak said Sunday in his weekly television address. "It must be over, but I will not do anything that will create a bad atmosphere. The announcement of an emergency decree would create a bad atmosphere in the country and to the world."

As the protests continue in Bangkok, three airports, including one at the tourist destination of Phuket, were operating again. But a group calling itself the People's Alliance for Democracy Southern Alliance threatened to surround seven airports if Samak does declare an emergency.

About 1,000 pro-government demonstrators gathered outside parliament as it met, with as many police ready to prevent clashes with the anti-government movement.

In the chamber, where Samak's coalition has a two-thirds majority, opposition MPs laid into the government but most stopped short of calling for Samak to resign.

But Democrat MP Jurin Laksanavisit declared that it was time for Samak "to review his role and behaviour".

"You should ask yourself whether you should maintain the premiership," he said.

Samak repeated his refusal to quit in his TV broadcast, although the chief of the army has asked him to do so.