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Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 10:33 UK

Divisions emerge over Thai PM's election road-map

Red-shirt protesters in Bangkok on 6 May 2010
Protesters want a date for parliament to be dissolved before they go home

The Thai government has suggested that parliament could be dissolved in September in line with its offer of holding elections two months later.

However, red-shirt protesters say this is not the firm date they need before they will disband their protest camp.

Yellow-shirt leaders also dispute the government's road-map and say the prime minister should resign if he cannot enforce the law against the red-shirts.

The government insists its November election bid is non-negotiable.

BBC South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says hopes that the current crisis might be coming to an end soon are fading.

Just when it seemed that a deal to bring two months of bitter and bloody stand-off to an end could be possible, Thailand's deep divisions are resurfacing, our correspondent says.

Hardening pose

The offer of elections on 14 November was made earlier this week by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who remains holed up in a military camp almost two months after red-shirt protests began in Bangkok.

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
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
3 May: PM Abhisit offers reconciliation plan and polls on 14 November

The red-shirts have demanded a fixed date for parliamentary dissolution, as a precondition for ending their Bangkok protests.

In an interview, Mr Abhisit appeared to firm up his position: "If they don't go home, I'm not going to dissolve parliament.

"I repeat, I am not negotiating with anybody ... including the protesters," he said.

The armed forces spokesman, Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd, supported an apparently stronger line from the government.

"The message that the prime minister has sent out regarding a five-step road-map is for everyone in the country - not just for the red-shirts. So the reds don't have many choices and don't have right to haggle about the five steps in the road-map," he said.

"It's still possible they could be dispersed," he added.

Red-shirt leaders have been calling for a formal commitment from the government before telling their supporters it is time to go home.

The government should fully enforce the law against them and not negotiate or reconcile with these terrorists of a new Thai state
Yellow-shirts' statement

They say they want to join the process of reconciliation offered by the prime minister but want to see signs of sincerity and clarity from the government.

Our correspondent says there is clearly a deficit of trust, which is hardly surprising after two months of bitter dispute during which 27 people have been killed.

'Survival mechanism'

The yellow-shirt Peoples' Alliance for Democracy (PAD) statement also disputes the government's sincerity, but from a different direction.

The yellow-shirts, known for closing down Bangkok's airport in December 2008, described the red-shirts as "terrorists" and castigated Mr Abhisit for presuming to reconcile with them.

"The government should fully enforce the law against them and not negotiate or reconcile with these terrorists of a new Thai state," it said.

It criticised Mr Abhisit's declaration of an election date as a "a survival mechanism and selfish act" by a man "who does not care about the damages to the country and about the people who are victims of the political confrontation".

It alleges the election schedule is part of a secret deal with former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in a 2006 coup and who many of the red-shirts support.

And it demands Mr Abhisit resign if he is unable to enforce the law and re-establish a state based on the rule of law.



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