Thu Sep 4, 9:57 am ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The White House said Thursday it was closely watching unrest in Thailand, urged all sides to refrain from violence, and called for an emergency decree to be limited in scope and duration.
“We are following the political situation in Thailand closely,” spokesman Gordon Johndroe said as Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej rejected protesters’ demands that he resign and refused to call snap elections.
“We urge both supporters and opponents of the Thai Government to refrain from violence, respect the rule of law, and address their differences within Thailand’s democratic institutions,” said Johndroe.
A recent spate of anti-government protests in Thailand turned bloody in the early hours of Tuesday, when one of Samak’s supporters was beaten to death in street clashes with the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrators.
After the killing Samak declared a state of emergency in Bangkok, essentially giving control of the capital to the army.
“We hope the Thai Government will be able to limit the duration and extent to which it implements the emergency decree to the extent necessary to restore the authority of Thailand’s democratically-elected government,” said Johndroe.
Samak has denounced the protesters, who have besieged his offices for 10 days, as a “doomsday cult,” and proposed holding a referendum to ask the public whether he should stay or go.
The PAD — a hotchpotch of royalists, businessmen and activists — wants to roll back many of Thailand’s democratic gains by creating a new parliament in which only 30 percent of seats would be elected.