Thai Red Shirt Protesters Reject More Government Talks

Thai protesters demanding new elections said Tuesday they would not return to negotiations with the government and would instead resume massive street demonstrations. But

the prime minister, who was traveling abroad, said the talks would continue.

Jatuporn Prompan, one of the leaders of the so-called Red Shirts, said that two televised face-to-face meetings with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and aides would not be followed up Thursday “because both sides now have different goals.”

“Our demand is for the parliament dissolution to take place within 15 days,” he said. Abhisit had offered Monday to dissolve parliament by the end of the year, prompting new election.

But Abhisit told reporters Tuesday in the Bahraini capital of Manama that communication between his aides and the protesters was ongoing.

“When I get back (on Thursday), we will resume talks so that we can make sure that there is no violence,” he added, reiterating that he would not heed calls for an immediate dissolution of the parliament.

The different Red Shirt leaders often express different positions, and sometimes have proven more willing to compromise than their rhetoric suggests.

Their group — formally known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship — have been holding street demonstrations in the Thai capital for the past two and a half weeks.

On two or three occasions, they have mustered as many as 100,000 people, short of the 1 million that the protest leaders had called for, but among the biggest demonstrations in Thailand in the past few decades.

Jatuporn said another massive gathering is set for Saturday, with its exact nature to be announced later.

“How we will step up our measures will also be told when we begin our operations, but we confirm they will be based on nonviolent principles,” he said.