Thailand PM Yingluck Shinawatra rules out early election

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Bangkok: "Army officers looked on with some bemusement"

Related Stories

Thai Prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ruled out an early election, following six days of protests aimed at removing her from office.

She told the BBC the situation in Thailand was not calm enough for polls.

She also said she would not authorise the use of force against protesters occupying government ministries.

She was speaking after demonstrators forced their way into the army headquarters in Bangkok and held a demonstration there.

Ms Yingluck has been prime minister since 2011, when her Pheu Thai party won a general election.

Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra told Jonathan Head: "We need to protect democracy"

In an interview with the BBC's Jonathan Head on Friday, she said that if she called a new election, she was not sure the protesters would be satisfied.

"I love this country. I devote myself to this country. I need only one thing for the country: we need to protect democracy," she said.

She said the situation in Thailand was "very sensitive" and repeated her call for negotiations to resolve the crisis.

On Thursday, Ms Yingluck called for an end to the demonstrations after surviving a no-confidence vote.

However protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has rejected her appeal.

"We will not let them work anymore," the former senior opposition lawmaker said in a speech late on Thursday.

Anti-government protesters with Thai national flags sit at the Royal Thai Army compound in Bangkok, Thailand, 29 November 2013 Protesters went inside the army HQ compound, sitting on the lawn
Anti-government protesters give roses, through razor wire, to the security personnel guarding the Defence Ministry as protesters gather outside it in Bangkok on 28 November 2013 In the last week protesters have marched on different government buildings
An anti-government protester sleeps among others sitting on the road outside the national police headquarters where they are protesting in Bangkok on 28 November 2013 On Thursday, they protested at the national police headquarters, shutting it down
Anti-government protesters gather in front of the Democracy Monument during a rally in Bangkok, Thailand, 29 November 2013 The government has asked the protesters to hold talks - but has been rejected

On Friday at least 1,000 protesters forced their way into the army headquarters compound, but did not enter any buildings.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher, who was at the scene, said protesters were massed on a lawn listening to speeches from leaders on a stage they had erected.

They urged the army to come out in support of the demonstrators. "We want to know which side the army stands on," Reuters news agency quoted one protester as saying.

Our correspondent described the atmosphere as good natured and said the authorities appeared keen to avoid confrontation. The protesters later left peacefully.

Special powers

Thailand's troubles

  • Sept 2006: Army overthrows government of Thaksin Shinawatra, rewrites constitution
  • Dec 2007: Pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins most votes in election
  • Aug 2008: Mr Thaksin flees into self-imposed exile before end of corruption trial
  • Dec 2008: Mass yellow-shirt protests paralyse Bangkok; Constitutional Court bans People Power Party; Abhisit Vejjajiva comes to power
  • Mar-May 2010: Thousands of pro-Thaksin red shirts occupy parts of Bangkok; eventually cleared by army; dozens killed
  • July 2011: Yingluck Shinawatra leads Pheu Thai party to general election win
  • Nov 2013: Anti-government protesters begin street demonstrations

Demonstrators have been surrounding and occupying official buildings this week in an attempt to disrupt the government.

During the demonstrations, which have been largely peaceful so far, participants have previously cut the electricity supply to the national police headquarters and forced the evacuation of Thailand's top crime-fighting agency.

The protesters say Ms Yingluck's government is controlled by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Thaksin, one of the most polarising characters in Thai politics, was ousted in a coup following protests in 2006. He now lives in self-imposed exile overseas, but remains popular with many rural voters.

The protesters tend to be urban and middle class voters.

Ms Yingluck has invoked special powers allowing curfews and road closures, and police have also ordered the arrest of Mr Suthep - but so far no move has been made to detain him.

An estimated 100,000 opposition supporters protested in Bangkok on Sunday, although the numbers appear to have dropped significantly during the week.

The country is facing its largest protests since 2010, when thousands of "red-shirt" Thaksin supporters occupied key parts of the capital. More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month sit-in.

The proposed passage of a controversial political amnesty bill, which critics said would have facilitated the return of Thaksin without having to serve jail, reignited simmering political tensions.

The Senate rejected the bill, which sought to cover offences committed during the upheaval after Thaksin was removed from office.

Ms Yingluck said she accepted the vote and would not resubmit the legislation.

Map

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Asia stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Salim Rashid SuriThe Singing Sailor

    The young Omani who became a prewar fusion music hit


  • Spoon and buckwheatSoul food

    The grain that tells you a lot about Russia's state of mind


  • A woman gets a Thanksgiving meal at a church in FergusonFamily fears

    Three generations in Ferguson share Thanksgiving reflections


  • Canada joins TwitterTweet North

    Canada's self-deprecating social media feed


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • IslandsUnmapped places

    Will the age-old quest to capture uncharted land and space ever end?

Programmes

  • All-inclusive holidaysThe Travel Show Watch

    With all-inclusive holidays seeing a resurgence are local trades missing out to big resorts?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.