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    Angry protesters pelt Thai premier with shoes and bottles

    AFP
    22.10.2008 - 13:56 | Son Güncelleme:

    A group of angry anti-government protesters on Wednesday pelted Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat with shoes and bottles, but the premier insisted he would not step down.

    About 300 unionists confronted Somchai, who is battling calls for his resignation and demonstrations against his rule, outside the communications ministry in the morning.

     

    "You’re a murderer, you’re a monitor lizard, shame on you," members of the state telecommunications union shouted.

     

    Somchai entered and left the building surrounded by a security team, as protesters booed and threw shoes, sandals and bottles at him.

     

    Later in the day, Somchai told reporters that he escaped unscathed from the attack, but a bodyguard was hit.

     

    "This morning was a bit colorful, but I have to work and I am not worried about these things -- people can have different opinions," Somchai said.

     

    "It would not be a problem for me to resign, but what will people get from my departure? ... I cannot stop working otherwise government development projects would be halted."

     

    Somchai has been in his post for just over a month, but has been under increasing pressure to resign after bloody street battles between police and protesters in Bangkok on Oct. 7 left two people dead and nearly 500 hurt.

     

    The powerful army chief last week appeared on television to say that if he were in Somchai’s position, he would step down and dissolve parliament to take responsibility for the street violence.

     

    Thousands of anti-government protesters are also occupying Somchai’s Bangkok offices, forcing the cabinet to hold their meetings at the old airport.

     

    Their leaders on Wednesday defied Somchai’s calls for protesters to vacate the besieged Government House before a cremation ceremony for the king’s sister next month, and said they were staying until the government was gone.

     

    Somchai’s People Power Party was comfortably elected last December, but some groups claim the government is running the country on behalf of the ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who they accuse of corruption and nepotism.

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