8 Sep 2008

Thai PM rules out military coup

9:17 am on 8 September 2008

Thailand's embattled prime minister says he is confident there will be no military coup against his government, despite weeks of street protests.

Protesters say Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is a proxy for former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in an army coup in 2006.

Demonstrators from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have been occupying Mr Samak's official headquarters since 26 August, and have vowed not to leave until he resigns.

The government has imposed emergency rule in the capital.

Mr Samak has proposed to hold a referendum on his rule, but the opposition has rejected the offer.

In a televised address on Sunday, Mr Samak said he can still handle the situation and the military did not believe a coup was the best way to defend the country.

Thailand's Supreme Commander Boonsrang Miumpradit said earlier this week that there was "no reason" to stage a coup.

Mr Samak also said that he still planned to go a General Assembly meeting of the United Nations in New York on 25 September.

His predecessor was ousted in an army coup just before he was due to address a similar UN session in 2006. He now lives in exile.