Thai anti-gov’t “red-shirt” protesters to leave Pattaya for Bangkok

April 12, 2009 8:03 am 

PATTAYA, Thailand, April 11 — Natthawut Saikua, a leader of the "red-shirt" protesters, Saturday declared victory for the Pattaya battle and told the protesters to leave the town and head back to Bangkok.

The "red shirt" protesters have set a deadline of April 15 for Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down and dissolve the cabinet. Otherwise, they threatened to continue their protests.

"The war in Pattaya was over now. Since we have gained victory, all "red-shirt" people in Pattaya will return to join the rally in front of the Government House," Natthawut said.

The summits of ASEAN leaders with dialogue partners have been canceled and a state of emergency declared in Pattaya after thousands of "red-shirt" protesters blocked all roads leading to the Summit venue and stormed the Summit Press Center.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit declared a state of emergency in Pattaya and Chonburi Province, partly to facilitate the departure of ASEAN leaders and delegates.

The cancellation has also been announced by acting government spokesman Panithan Watanayagorn, who had earlier said it was only a delay, not cancellation.

"We were also concerned about the safety of the leaders and the people including the protesters. We are working hard to control the situation," Panithan said.

Foreign Ministry's spokesman Tharit Charungvat said that all delegates are not the targets of the protesters. "The protesters want to humiliate the government," he said.

Thai officials said that the government is able to ensure the safety of the ASEAN leaders and their dialogue partners and helicopters are being used to lift ASEAN leaders to a nearby military airport. (PNA/Xinhua)

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