Thai PM Leaves Bangkok as Bombs, Gunfire Punctuate Unrest
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the target of anti-government protesters who have blocked parts of Bangkok for weeks, left the city and is staying 150 km (90 miles) away, her office said on Monday, without specifying the location.
The protests, punctuated by occasional gunfire and bomb blasts, including one on Sunday that killed a woman and a young brother and sister, are aimed at unseating Yingluck and erasing the influence of her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra who is seen by many as the power behind the government, Reuters reported.
Yingluck's office told reporters she was not in Bangkok and asked media to follow a convoy outside the city to where they said Yingluck was "undertaking official duties".
The office would not confirm how many days Yingluck had been working outside the capital. She was last seen in public in Bangkok nearly a week ago, last Tuesday, and is due to attend a corruption hearing there on Thursday.
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said Yingluck would hold a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
"It is highly likely that we will hold the cabinet meeting outside of Bangkok. As for the prime minister's exact whereabouts today, I have not been informed," Surapong told reporters.
The political crisis, which pits the mainly middle-class anti-government demonstrators from Bangkok and the south against supporters of Yingluck from the populous rural north and northeast, shows no sign of ending soon.
But the army, which toppled Thaksin in 2006 in the latest of 18 coups or attempted coups since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, said it would not intervene this time round.
"Somebody has to take responsibility but that doesn't mean soldiers can intervene without working under the framework (of the law)," army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a rare televised address.
"How can we be sure that if we use soldiers, the situation will return to peace?"
Protesters, who disrupted and boycotted this month's general election, have been urged by their leader to target businesses linked to Thaksin and gathered outside a television station on Monday managed by Thaksin's son.
They also headed for the foreign and finance ministries.