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Thais worry about lasting violence

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Increasing threat of a bloody showdown is raising concerns about major damage to country’s economic standing

BANGKOK—Fears are growing that Thailand’s political crisis could cause lasting damage to its economy and international reputation as the country edges closer to a potentially bloody showdown.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva rejected a proposal from antigovernment protesters to dissolve Parliament within 30 days, dashing hopes that a negotiated settlement could be reached soon. Red-shirt-wearing protesters offered the compromise late Friday after grenade attacks brought chaos to one of Bangkok’s main business and tourist zones Thursday night, killing at least one person and injuring more than 85 others. Previously, the protesters had demanded an immediate dissolution.

Thailand’s protesters, who have occupied key parts of Bangkok since March 12, continued to dig in on Sunday, converting a large section of the central city into a fortress surrounded by sharpened bamboo poles, used tires and giant trucks. The government has vowed to clear the area, but when—or how, given that it contains many children and other innocent bystanders—is unclear.

In an interview televised Sunday, Mr. Abhisit said the government was “preparing to be ready for what would lead to the next level,” but didn’t elaborate.

The Wall Street Journal


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