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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 March 2007, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Thai PM sets post-coup vote date
Thai PM Surayud Chulanont
PM Surayud said he wanted to avoid confrontation
Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has announced that general elections will be held in December.

Mr Surayud also rejected a military demand for emergency powers to be restored to curtail growing anti-coup protests in the capital Bangkok.

The military is worried a protest planned for Friday might become unruly.

Mr Surayud was appointed prime minister by the military after the overthrow of his predecessor Thaksin Shinawatra in a coup last September.

Mr Surayud said a general election would be held on either 16 or 22 December.

A government spokesman later said the prime minister had meant to say either 16 or 23 December, French news agency Agence France Presse reported.

Protest park closed

Mr Surayud also said a referendum on a new constitution would be held "no later than September".

He also said imposing a state of emergency might inflame an already tense situation.

"There will be no imposition of the emergency decree for now because the situation does not warrant it," the prime minister told reporters after meeting with the generals who led last year's coup.

"I don't want to see clashes among the Thai people," he said.

Anti-coup rallies demanding immediate elections have been growing in recent weeks but are still drawing relatively few people.

Last weekend's, the biggest yet, drew 3,000 people to a park in Bangkok. Protests against Mr Thaksin before his overthrow last year drew up to 100,000 people.

Bangkok's city authorities decided to close the Sanam Luang park where Friday's protest was planned. Protest organisers said the anti-coup rally would instead be held outside the city hall.

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