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Page last updated at 03:42 GMT, Sunday, 4 April 2010 04:42 UK

Thailand protesters remain defiant in Bangkok

Red shirted supporters of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra occupy streets in central Bangkok, 3 April 2010
Sunday showed few signs of many of the protesters dispersing

Thousands of Thai protesters are remaining defiant in their campaign to topple the government, ignoring deadlines to end their Bangkok protest.

The anti-government protesters, known as the red-shirts, are continuing to occupy the capital's commercial heart.

They are calling on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and hold early elections.

Mr Abhisit appeared on TV to urge the protesters to end their rally, saying they were violating security laws.

He called on protesters to stop blocking roads.

Mr Abhisit said the government would pursue peaceful negotiations and urged those angry with the protests to be patient.

An anti-government demonstrator sleeps on the pavement in Bangkok, 4 April 2010
Many protesters are from rural areas and slept on the streets

Protest leaders are expected to have further talks with the authorities on Sunday.

On Saturday, the supporters of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra blocked roads and forced shopping centres to close.

Mr Thaksin called for his supporters to hold stay resilient during a video message on Saturday night.

"Fight and be tired for a few more days," he said. "This is better than being tired for the rest of your lives due to injustice.

"I ask that those of you working the next few days to please take days off and join us here. Please be patient. Victory is just around the corner."

It is the third consecutive week of mass rallies, but the first time that protesters have targeted shops and restaurants rather than government and military buildings.

The demonstrators occupied the commercial area on Saturday, and although the government originally issued a deadline for them to leave, it said later that negotiations would continue.

'Peaceful'

Saturday's demonstrations saw central roads in the capital blocked, traffic halted and at least two of Thailand's biggest shopping malls forced to close.

The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Bangkok says there is no sign of protesters dispersing. She says there is also no sign of security forces and the atmosphere is still good-natured and peaceful.

Mr Abhisit has said he will hold elections by the end of the year - an offer the protesters have rejected.

There have already been two unsuccessful rounds of talks to resolve the crisis.

On Friday business leaders, academics, and people from the tourism industry turned out wearing pink shirts to call for an end to the crisis and show their continuing support for the government.

They numbered several thousand but did not match the tens of thousands that have attended the red-shirt rallies.

Mr Thaksin, a former telecoms tycoon, was ousted in a coup in 2006.


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