updated 12:59 p.m. EDT, Mon June 2, 2008
BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) — Despite winning a string of government concessions, hundreds continued to protest on the streets of Thailand Monday, some calling for the country’s prime minister to resign.
Thai PM Samak Sundaravej stated that he would not use force to end the protests in the Thai capital
The protests have moved into a second week heightening political tensions and birthing rumors of a possible coup.
The around-the-clock protests in Bangkok are headed by a group called the People’s Alliance for Democracy, (PAD).
The group is protesting a proposed change to Thailand’s constitution which would protect former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his followers from corruption charges.
Shinawatra was ousted from power in the country’s last coup in 2006.
The recent polictical turmoil has affected the country’s economy as the Stock Exchange of Thailand composite index dropped more than 2 percent, a state-run news agency reported Monday. Analysts attributed the drop to the political tensions in the country, the agency said.
The agency quoted Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Suebwonglee Monday about the rumors of a coup in the country.
“I admit the political disturbances in the past week has undermined confidence in the country’s economy. However, all parties still believe the incident will neither turn violent nor lead to a coup,” he said.
Current Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej issued a televised warning Saturday to protesters threatening to bring police to get them off the street. Hundreds of riot police could be seen near the protests this weekend.
On Sunday, the prime minister reversed his stance stating that he would not use force to end the protests, according to a government statement.
For some this was seen as a concession that weakened the position of the prime minister.
“It was brinkmanship and Samak backed down. This made him lose a lot of credibility,” said Tahitian Pongsuthirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “I think over the past weekend his position has become much more precarious.”
Monday government officials seemed to make another concession to protesters by creating a committee to work on rewriting the constitution and stating that members of the protest group could join the committee, according to reports in the Bangkok Post newspaper.
Bangkok government officials conceded to another of the protesters requests last week to have Thai minister Jakrapob Penkair to step down.
Penzair, who was a minister attached to the prime minister’s office, announced his resignation Friday.
Despite these concessions, hundreds of protesters were seen on streets Monday. And PAD seemed to up the ante by calling for the resignation of the prime minister.
An interior minister said Monday that Sundaravej would never resign, the state-run news agency said.
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