17 May 2010

No foreign mediation wanted by Thai govt

7:58 am on 17 May 2010

Thailand has rejected any foreign mediation to end a stand-off with anti-government protestors in Bangkok.

The protestors say they will enter negotiations moderated by the United Nations, as long as the government withdraws troops from the streets of the capital.

Fighting flared on Thursday as the army moved to isolate a fortified protest camp in the city centre.

A protest leader suggested the talks, but a government spokesman was quick to rebuff the offer, saying outside groups should not interfere.

The death toll since Thursday is now 33, with more than 230 wounded.

The protests began on 14 March. A state of emergency was declared in Bangkok on 7 April.

The protesters, known as 'red-shirts', want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign and call a new election.

The BBC reports a state of emergency has now been declared in more than 20 provinces - mostly in the north - in a bid to stop more demonstrators heading to the capital.

Officials have urged women and older people to leave the protest zone by Monday afternoon and have asked for help from the Red Cross.

About 5000 people remain in the encampment, where food and water are running low amid a blockade on the area.

Troops are in position beside a road leading to the camp, where witnesses say they are firing live rounds.

Sporadic clashes were reported on Sunday, but not on the same scale as previous days.