Thai protest leader says he met PM Yingluck and told her to hand power to people
Suthep Thaugsuban says he refused to negotiate and told Yingluck to hand power to the people
The leader of Thailand's anti-government protests said he met Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday after day-long clashes between his supporters and police but told her he would accept nothing less than her resignation and a new government of an appointed council.
"I told Yingluck that this is the only and last time I see her until power is handed over to the people," Suthep Thaugsuban said in a televised speech.
"I told her the only solution is to hand over power to the people. There will be no bargaining and it must be finished in two days."
Suthep told supporters at one of the protest encampments that the meeting was held under the auspices of the military, which says it is neutral in the conflict.
He insisted that the talk 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.
There was no immediate announcement from the government about the claimed talks.
Last week protesters tried to disrupt government activities by besieging and occupying parts of several ministries and other government offices.
About 30,000 protesters launched what they called a "people's coup" against the government yesterday, swarming state agencies and taking control of a broadcaster.
Police fired tear gas on protesters who hurled stones and petrol bombs in demonstrations that paralysed parts of Bangkok and followed a night of gun and knife battles in which four people were killed and dozens wounded.
A group of protesters forced Yingluck to flee from a building where she had planned to give media interviews, while hundreds seized control of state broadcaster Thai PBS.
Police tightened security after clashes on Saturday between supporters and opponents of Yingluck near a sports stadium where about 70,000 red-shirted government supporters had gathered. Five big shopping malls closed their doors in Bangkok, underscoring the economic impact of the protests.
One of Hong Kong's biggest travel agencies, Wing On Travel, had changed tourists' itineraries to avoid shopping malls. Some tour groups will now avoid Siam Square, a big shopping and entertainment district in the city.
Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse