Yingluck Shinawatra given 2-day ultimatum as Thai protesters call for strike

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Monday, December 2, 2013 - 14:26

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Bangkok: After a week of intense protests aimed at toppling PM Yingluck Shinwatra, Thailand protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban met her and gave her two days’ time to hand over power to people, without any bargaining, reports said Monday.

The protest leader also called for a general strike on Monday.

Also Read: Yingluck Shinawatra rejects Thailand protesters` demand of `People`s Council`

After a fierce day of protest on Sunday, the protest leader met the PM at a secret location under the auspices of military, which is reportedly neutral in the conflict.

After the meeting, he said he had told the PM to hand over the power to the peole within two days, adding that there had been no negotiation or compromise.

"If Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra listens to the people`s voices, we will treat her like gentlemen because we all are good citizens," he said.

"I told Yingluck that if police put down their weapons, we will welcome them as they are also Thai," he told supporters late on Sunday. "I told Yingluck that this will be our only meeting and we will not meet again until the people win."

The demonstrators want to replace Yingluck`s government with an unelected "people`s council.

The protest leader’s ultimatum to the PM came after tens of thousands of protesters occupied key areas like TV stations, police headquarters and most significant Government House.

It was the first time riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at the rock-hurling protesters who thronged outside the Government House.

The protesters also stormed a police headquarter, forcing the PM to leave the building and head to a secret location.

Last week, the protesters had stormed into key government ministries in a bid to shutdown the government.

The protesters allege that the current government is a puppet regime run by the PM’s brother and former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

The protests have renewed fears of prolonged instability in one of Southeast Asia`s biggest economies. Sunday marked the first time police have used force since demonstrations began in earnest a week ago — a risky strategy that many fear could trigger more bloodshed.

At least three people have been killed and 103 injured in skirmishes so far, according to police and the state`s emergency medical services. The deaths occurred at a Bangkok stadium where the body of one protester shot in the chest lay face-up on the ground. The death toll was revised from four after the emergency services office said there had been a mix-up in information from hospitals.

Suthep insisted to his supporters that the talk with Yingluck did not constitute negotiations. The protesters had dubbed Sunday "victory day" but failed to attain their main stated goal of taking over the prime minister`s offices, despite engaging in pitched street battles. Yingluck`s government has gone to painstaking lengths to avoid using force.

At the heart of the protests, that are the largest demonstration since 2010, lies Amnesty Bill that Yingluck`s ruling Pheu Thai party tried to get passed.
The Bill might have felicitated the return of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in 2006 in a coup.

Thaksin was overthrown after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin lives in Dubai to avoid a two-year jail term for a corruption conviction he says was politically motivated.

With Agency Inputs

First Published: Monday, December 2, 2013 - 09:35

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