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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thai protest leaders surrender to police

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 16:27:46 GMT | PressTV

The Red Shirt protesters support Thaksin, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006

Four Thai anti-government protest leaders have surrendered themselves to the government after ending a three-week siege of the Government House.

The leaders loyal to ousted Premier Thaksin Shinawatra were taken to police headquarters in the capital Bangkok on late Tuesday.

Earlier, the national police chief had said protest organizers would be prosecuted for violating the state of emergency.

The group had been charged with inciting a public disturbance and illegal assembly.

Police say the Thai court has also issued an arrest warrant for Thaksin as well.

The government has extended holidays until the end of the week, saying it is in the interest of public safety and needed to restore public facilities.

Thaksin' supporters have also decided to call off protests after being surrounded by hundreds of troops.

The troops were seen firing their guns into the air and into the crowds to quell unrest in the capital, while angry demonstrators threw homemade firebombs in retaliation.

At least two people were killed and about 120 people, including police officers were injured during the anti-government rallies.

Protest leader Jakrapap Penkair said the retreat is "an honorable decision to save lives", but vowed that the movement would continue.

Thaksin's supporters have called for snap elections, arguing the current government is “illegitimate”.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has snubbed calls to give into their demands and refused to dissolve his four-month-old government to hold elections.

"We are confident that we are in control of the situation," Vejjajiva said on Monday night.

Thaksin has said: "The situation in Thailand is of very brutal suppression."

Thailand has been in turmoil since Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup.

Earlier in 2008, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), occupied the government compound for months and forced the previous pro-Thaksin government out of office.

British-born Vejjajiva, 43, came to power after a court charged the former pro-Thaksin party with fraud and threw Thaksin's brother-in-law out of the premiership.

Vejjajiva was named prime minister in December after the collapse of the pro-Thaksin administration.

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