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Page last updated at 04:53 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 05:53 UK

Thai army denies government rift

By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Bangkok

Thai soldiers patrol the capital, Bangkok (October 2008)
Thailand has been in the grip of political tensions for months

The supreme commander of Thailand's armed forces has denied rifts between the military and the government, saying the two were working fine.

"We can work together," said Supreme Commander Gen Songkitti Jakkabatra at a royal ceremony in the capital Bangkok.

His army chief last week suggested during a national television talk show that the prime minister should resign.

Somchai Wongsawat is under pressure to quit over recent deadly clashes between police and an anti-government group.

Thailand has been in the grip of political tensions for months, ever since protesters opposed to the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra began a campaign to bring down the current government who they say are his proxies.

Politically polarised

Thailand's supreme commander told journalists that the relationship between the army and the government was fine.

Protesters in Bangkok - 17/10/2008
Protesters want to force the government to resign

That relationship has been under some strain recently, after his army chief refused to use force to evict anti-government protesters from the prime minister's office, and then suggested on national television that the prime minister should resign.

That relationship may be put to the test again next week, when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is to address a rally of his supporters by telephone from London.

It is expected to draw big crowds.

The country's current Prime Minister, Mr Somchai, has played down fears of violence but Thailand is politically polarised at the moment around the figure of Mr Thaksin, and the situation remains unstable.



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