Thai PM Seeks Reconciliation despite Threat of More Protests

Thai PM Seeks Reconciliation despite Threat of More Protests

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called for reconciliation on Tuesday as the streets of the capital, Bangkok, emptied ahead of New Year celebrations, a rare period of calm after weeks of unrest.

Anti-government protesters have vowed to disrupt a February 2 election called by Yingluck in a bid to settle a crisis that has pitted her government against Bangkok's conservative elite and middle class.

The demonstrators have threatened to shut down Bangkok after the New Year, with plans to block roads in up to 20 places, although the scope of their protests has not always matched the promises made by their leader, Suthep Thaugsuban.

Yingluck has not been in Bangkok for more than a week, spending time among supporters in the north, but she used social media to send a message seeking peace and reconciliation.

"On the occasion of New Year 2014, may I ask all Thais to be united in mind, to seek a blessing for the Thai people to love and harmonize and for those who differ in views, be it their political ideology or belief, to reconcile for a peaceful resolution for our nation," she said in a Facebook post.

The demonstrators are determined to topple Yingluck, who they see as a puppet of her self-exiled brother and former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra, Reuters reported.

Bangkok's normally gridlocked streets were mostly clear on Tuesday as people headed to the provinces for the holiday.

The latest protests have flared into violence at several protest sites over the past five days. At least eight people have been killed since they began in late November.

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