Red Shirts refuse more talks

BANGKOK: Thailand’s anti-government “Red Shirts” today rejected the prime minister’s offer of more talks and said negotiations had failed because he would not meet their 15-day deadline to call elections.

Leaders of the red-clad protest movement have held two rounds of televised talks with premier Abhisit Vejjajiva since Sunday, but they appeared to make little progress towards ending weeks of disruptive mass rallies in Bangkok.

“Negotiations have completely failed and have already ended. No more talks, everything is finished,” a defiant Red Shirts leader Jatuporn Prompan told reporters, refusing Abhisit’s offer to hold fresh discussions on Thursday.

During talks late yesterday, Abhisit offered Jatuporn and two other Red Shirt representatives a compromise deal, saying he was willing to call elections by the end of the year, one year ahead of schedule.

“We need 15 days, while the government needs nine months,” Jatuporn said after the two sides parted without agreement. “The government is insincere.” The supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra say the government is elitist and undemocratic because it came to

power through a parliamentary vote after a

controversial court ruling removed Thaksin’s allies from power.

The group, who stem mostly from Thailand’s rural poor, first gathered more than two weeks ago in Bangkok’s government quarter — the latest in a string of rival street campaigns in the politically riven kingdom.