Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva defied the demands of his opponents Monday morning, telling the country in a televised statement that he would neither resign nor dissolve the House of Representatives, as tens of thousands of red-shirted demonstrators laid siege to the army base where government and security officials are monitoring the protests.
“I cannot answer the demands of the protesters,” an outwardly calm Abhisit said during the televised press conference, as he was flanked by leaders of the parties that form his coalition government. “I have listened to the protesters, but I also have to listen to other groups in society who want the government to go on.”
Despite the show of unity by coalition partners and the government’s confidence that it can manage the protests that swelled to 100,000 this weekend, Abhisit’s ability to outlast the demonstrations is unclear considering the potential volatility of the situation. He has already invoked special security laws and 30,000 troops have been posted to the capital to maintain order. Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said that some red shirts want to provoke the military into responding with violence so the majority of the public would turn against the Prime Minister. “I wouldn’t predict the outcome,” says Chris Baker, a Thailand-based political and economic analyst.