2 June 2008 16:01 UK
Protesters have defied a government request to leave the streets
Thailand’s stock market has fallen for the fifth trading day in a row, amid ongoing anti-government demonstrations and rumours of a military coup.
Activists accuse PM Samak Sundaravej of changing the constitution to protect his predecessor Thaksin Shinawatra.
Army chief Gen Anupong Paochinda said the military would not intervene in the dispute and denied rumours a repeat of the 2006 coup was imminent.
The army would “not use force against the people,” his spokeswoman said.
Shaky investor confidence
But investor confidence remained shaky and the Bangkok stock exchange dipped 2.8%, adding to the 4.8% fall it suffered last week in its biggest weekly decline since just before the last coup.
Finance Minister Suraphong Suebwonglee told reporters: “I have to admit that the problems over the past week have affected confidence.”
Protesters took to the streets for an eighth day on Monday to demand Mr Samak’s resignation.
One of the protest leaders said the demonstrators would defy a government request to leave their positions near the United Nations building in Bangkok.
On Sunday, the prime minister backed away from a threat he had made a day earlier to send in the police and military to clear protesters off the streets.
The military removed Mr Thaksin in 2006 after months of unrest by demonstrators who accused the former prime minister of corruption and destroying democracy in Thailand.
Samak Sundaravej won election last December
Mr Samak, whose party won a general election last December, is widely seen as a proxy for Mr Thaksin.
After months of exile, Mr Thaksin returned to Bangkok earlier this year to face corruption charges against him and his family.
The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok says Mr Samak wants to modify last year’s constitution and remove clauses that curb the power of elected governments.
But his opponents suspect him of attempting to pave the way for a comeback by Mr Thaksin.
The poor performance of Mr Samak’s unwieldy coalition has not helped his cause with the public, says our correspondent.
Opponents of the government fear Mr Thaksin wants to weaken the position of the monarchy, he says.
Last week a minister close to Mr Thaksin was forced to resign after being accused of insulting the monarchy.
Our correspondent says it is a potent charge in a country beset by anxiety over the succession to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has been on the throne for six decades.
Filed under: 1