Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 16:24 UK

Thai army chief hints PM must go

Army commander Gen Anupong Paochinda
Gen Anupong has repeatedly pledged not to launch a coup

Thai army chief Anupong Paochinda has said that if he was the prime minister, he would resign over last week's crackdown on anti-government protests.

But he denied that the army was trying to pressurise the government, and repeated his vow not to launch a coup.

Two people died and nearly 500 people were hurt in last week's clashes outside parliament.

The police were accused of brutality for firing teargas grenades that blew off several people's limbs.

"If I were the prime minister, and a violent dispersal of protesters happened and caused loss of lives and resulted in injuries... I would definitely resign," General Anupong said in a live television interview.

It was the strongest comment so far by the influential army leader about Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who has been in power for less than a month.

Long-running row

Protesters led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have occupied a central government complex for weeks, demanding the government's resignation.

They say the ruling party is acting on behalf of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

In recent months the judiciary has laid several corruption charges against Mr Thaksin and his wife Pojaman. It has also deposed Mr Thaksin's ally, former prime minister Samak Sundaravej.

Mr Samak's successor, Mr Somchai, is a brother-in-law of Mr Thaksin and so is still distrusted by the protesters.

Correspondents say the crisis has deeply polarised Thai society, and with the lack of any political solution in sight, the threat of more violence remains real.

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