Around Asia: Thai protesters announce ultimatum

Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra an ultimatum of two days to “return power to the people” after deadly clashes razed parts of the capital.

Speaking at a press conference before protesters, Suthep said he had met with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and demanded she step down in two days.

He said that the meeting had been held under the auspices of the military and there was “no negotiation and no compromise”. The military is reportedly neutral in the conflict.

“If Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra listens to the people’s voices, we will treat her like gentlemen because we all are good citizens,” Suthep, secretary-general of the Democratic Reform Committee, said at the rally site.

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

He also called for general strike of government employees on Monday. Suthep said the people would not be satisfied until winning a “victory for the people”, but didn’t mention what actions would follow if the ultimatum is defied.

On Sunday, fiery protests raged across Bangkok, leaving at least four people dead and dozens more injured. Thousands of anti-government demonstrators stormed key areas including the Government House and a police headquarter in what they called “people’s coup”. Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at the rock-hurling protesters.

Protesters believe the current government is a puppet regime run by the prime minister’s brother and former PM Thaksin Shinawatra and are calling for an “unelected people’s council” to replace Yingluck’s government.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image of police at a 2009 demonstration: Cecilia…/Flickr

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