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Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 15:52 UK

Thailand's yellows urge action against red-shirts

Pro-government rally in Bangkok on 26 April 2010
The government supporters want more action against the red-shirts

Thailand's pro-government yellow-shirts have called for the government to act, as weeks-long red-shirt protests spread to provinces outside the Thai capital.

The yellows said martial law was needed in Bangkok and a state of emergency in provinces dominated by the red-shirts.

The reds began building roadblocks in several provinces on Sunday to prevent more police reaching the capital.

The red-shirts have been camped out in Bangkok since 14 March. On Saturday the PM rejected a new offer of talks.

Late on Monday, Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej made his first public comments since the protests began.

Speaking to a group of judges from the hospital where he has been staying since September, the 82-year-old monarch did not directly address the political crisis.

"Do your job with honesty," he told them. "In this country there may be some people who forget their duty. You should be an example by working honestly and properly, your job is very important."

The BBC's Rachel Harvey says that as Thais look for guidance amid the current crisis, many will be searching for hidden meaning in the king's words.

Regional protests

The stand-off began when red-shirt protesters occupied part of Bangkok's historic district.

They have since moved to the commercial district and currently occupy a swathe of the city stretching south to the business district, living behind highly-fortified barricades.

RED-SHIRT PROTEST

14 Mar: Red-shirts converge on Bangkok, hold first big rally, occupy government district
16 Mar: Protesters splash their own blood at Government House
30 Mar: A round of talks with the government ends in deadlock
3 Apr: Red-shirts occupy Bangkok shopping district
7 Apr: PM Abhisit orders state of emergency
10 Apr: Troops try to clear protesters; 25 people are killed and hundreds injured
22 Apr: Grenade blasts kill one and injure 85 near protest hub; each side blames the other

An attempt by the government to clear one area on 10 April left 25 people dead and hundreds injured. Grenade attacks last week that killed one person further raised tensions in the capital.

Over the weekend, Mr Abhisit rejected a conditional offer of talks from the red-shirts, saying "intimidation" should not bring about political change.

He promised that Bangkok's commercial district would be cleared of protesters but said "the process, the measures, how and when it will be done we cannot disclose because it depends on several things".

The yellows - a group known as the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) who shut down Bangkok's two main airports in 2008 in a separate political protest - had given the government a deadline of 25 April to deal with the protesters.

"There should be an announcement of martial law," said Suriyasai Katasila, a spokesman for the yellows. "If the situation does not improve, PAD will consider intensifying its measures."

But red-shirt leaders said that they were staying put - and escalating action around the country.

"Reds everywhere will stop police and army from coming to Bangkok," said Nattawut Saikuar, a red leader.

"We will step up our peaceful measures to stop the reinforcement. Our people will ask the police and army to return to their barracks."

Around the country, several confrontations between police and protesters were reported.

A protester watches as cars back up by a roadblock in central Thailand on 25 April 2010

In Udon Thani, in the north-east, protesters blocked a major highway on Sunday and prevented a convoy of police from reaching Bangkok.

Roadblocks were also set up in Nong Kai province and to the north of Bangkok, again aimed at police heading to the Thai capital. Several arrests were reported in one incident on Monday on Bangkok's northern outskirts.

Late on Sunday in Bangkok a grenade was hurled at a guard post near the home of Banharn Silapa-Archa, a former prime minister whose Chart Thai Pattana party is part of the current governing coalition. At least 8 people were hurt.

On Monday Bangkok was said to be calm. Many red-shirts changed into different clothes after leaders told them they would be less visible to security forces if a crackdown came.

The red-shirts - many of whom back ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra - believe that the current government is illegitimate. They want Mr Abhisit to call fresh elections - something he has so far refused to do.

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