April 26 (Bloomberg) — Thailand’s government said it hoped to resolve a standoff with protesters occupying central Bangkok for 23 days peacefully, softening its stance after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva scrapped direct talks yesterday.
“There is no majority call to use force to clear them out,” government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn told reporters today in Bangkok. “The majority of Thai people won’t accept that.”
The statement followed a pledge by Abhisit on national television yesterday to take back the area, where rallies have shut down shopping malls and banks. The address, delivered by Abhisit with the army chief at his side, prompted protesters to call on rural supporters to stop soldiers and police from entering the capital.
About 80,000 troops were preparing to retake the site this morning, the protest group said in a text message. Abhisit is determined to resolve the standoff peacefully, said Panitan, who rejected a call made today by pro-government supporters for authorities to declare martial law.