Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Sunday, 7 September 2008 08:51 UK

Thai PM rules out military coup

Thai PM Samak Sundaravej. File photo
Mr Samak says he "can still handle the situation"

Thailand's embattled prime minister has said he is confident there will be no military coup against his government, despite weeks of street protests.

"The military believes no coup is the best way to defend the country," Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said.

Mr Samak has proposed to hold a referendum on his rule, but the opposition has rejected the offer.

Protesters say Mr Samak is merely a proxy for former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in an army coup in 2006.

The demonstrators from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have been occupying Mr Samak's official headquarters since 26 August, and have vowed not to leave until he resigns.

One man was killed in clashes between pro- and anti-government groups in Bangkok earlier this week, prompting the government to impose emergency rule in the capital.

UN visit

"I can still handle the situation," Mr Samak said in a televised address on Sunday.

26 Aug: Protesters occupy government buildings, demand the government step down
28 Aug: PM Samak promises no use of force against the protesters
29 Aug: Police try to evict protesters but pull back; crowds blockade two regional airports
30 Aug: Samak rules out resignation, following a meeting with Thailand's king
1 Sep: A late-night clash between pro- and anti-government groups leaves one dead. Samak declares a state of emergency
3 Sept: Thai FM Tej Bunnag resigns
4 Sept: Samak proposes a national referendum

He reminded viewers that Thailand's Supreme Commander Boonsrang Miumpradit had said earlier this week that there was "no reason" to stage a coup.

Mr Samak also said that he still planned to go a UN General Assembly meeting in New York on 25 September.

"I will go to speak at the United Nations, even though Thaksin went and speak there and did not return," Mr Samak said.

Mr Thaksin was ousted in an army coup just hours before he was due to address a similar UN session in 2006. He now lives in exile.

Washington PostThai PM vows to fight on despite court threat - 24 mins ago
Reuters Thai PM vows to fight on despite court threat - 26 mins ago
Star-TelegramCooking show adds to Thailand PM's troubles - 37 mins ago
Al Jazeera Thai PM in the soup over cook show - 2 hrs ago
Orlando Sentinel Thailand prime minister's troubles grow with accusations TV show appearance unconstitutional - 3 hrs ago
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