Bangkok: The leader of a movement aimed at ousting Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday announced that protests in Bangkok will be shut down this weekend but made it clear that the fight against the government was far from over.
The surprise announcement by the opposition People`s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who has led protests against the government for four months, came hours after the army chief refused to rule out the possibility of a coup. Suthep did not give any reasons for his decision.
"We decided to stop the `Bangkok Shutdown` but we`ll continue to close down government offices and businesses of the Shinawatra family as usual and our fight will be more intense," Suthep told the crowd at the Pathumwan intersection.
"I`m determined to end this by March so we can start national reform, so please be patient." "The PDRC would like to return traffic lanes to our Bangkok brothers and sisters. My sincere apologies to all Bangkokians for the inconvenience. It`s just something we had to do," Suthep said.
He said nobody had forced the PDRC to dismantle the protest sites, not even the "incompetent" caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck and her deputy Chalerm Yubamrung, the Bangkok Post reported.
Suthep`s decision brings to an end six weeks of major disruptions at strategic locations across the capital as PDRC protesters tried to force the caretaker government`s ouster in a campaign that started on January 13.
Earlier today, Thailand`s army chief refused to rule out the possibility of a coup to end the months-old political crisis even as embattled premier Yingluck said she would rather "die" than give in to anti-government protesters.
"I can`t promise whether a coup will happen or not. But I admit that a coup is not right legally. Anyway, all coups were aimed to end the situation," Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said.
"Every problem must be solved using the law. But if it still can`t be solved, we may have to use special means," he told reporters.
He said the army was trying to avoid getting to a stage where a coup would even be considered as it was dangerous.