Thai premier: No quick end to political impasse

By Tim Sullivan, Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 7, 2013 at 4:19 a.m.



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BANGKOK (AP) - Thailand's prime minister said Saturday that while she sees no quick end to her country's deep political impasse, her government is willing to negotiate with opponents to end the crisis.

Speaking in an interview with a small group of foreign journalists, Yingluck Shinawatra said, "Our door is still open" to dialogue.

Thailand has been hit repeatedly by major bouts of political turmoil since the army overthrew then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's older brother, in a 2006 coup. In the latest unrest, at least five people died and at least 289 more were injured this month before the violence eased last week ahead of birthday celebrations to honor King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turned 86 on Thursday.

Protesters led by former lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban have vowed to overthrow Yingluck's government, and they have occupied the Finance Ministry and part of a vast government office complex for a week.

Suthep says he wants to see the creation of a non-elected "People's Council" that would replace Yingluck's administration, which was democratically elected in a landslide vote two years ago that international observers declared free and fair.

Yingluck said she did not want to cling to power.

"We don't have any resistance about resigning or dissolving Parliament," she said. Those things, however, can occur only if all parties agree, and new elections are held.

Suthep has said that the prime minister's resignation would not be enough to end the crisis. He has also rejected any new election because he knows the opposition would likely be soundly defeated. Various incarnations of Yingluck's party have won every election the country has held since 2001.

Late Friday, Suthep urged his followers to turn out en masse Monday for what he says will be a final showdown, raising more fears of possible violence after several days of calm.

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Associated Press writer Todd Pitman contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Tim Sullivan

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