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Thai protesters welcome government offer, want details

Thai antigovernment protesters cheer speeches by their movement’s leaders Tuesday in Bangkok. Protesters have occupied the capital’s central district for eight weeks.

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Thai antigovernment protesters cheer speeches by their movement’s leaders Tuesday in Bangkok. Protesters have occupied the capital’s central district for eight weeks.

BANGKOK — Protest leaders said they agreed in principle Tuesday with a government-proposed compromise to end Thailand's deadly political crisis but refused to leave their camp in Bangkok's streets until details can be worked out.

Pressure on both sides to end the eight-week-old stalemate has grown in recent days, with the government fending off calls for a crackdown on the paralyzing protest and the antigovernment "Red Shirts" attempting to recover from a public relations debacle caused by their raid of a hospital.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva went on nationwide television Monday night to present his plan for rescuing Thailand from the political morass in which it has been trapped since a 2006 military coup deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on corruption allegations.

The plan calls for elections on Nov. 14 — about a year before Abhisit's term would end — if the Red Shirts stop their protests.

Veera Musikapong, a Red Shirt leader, said after meeting with colleagues Tuesday that they "unanimously welcomed the reconciliation process" but did not commit themselves to abandoning their street demonstration.

"We're staying, but if an agreement could be reached easily and can stand, then I think we will leave soon," Weng Tojirakarn, another protest leader, told the Associated Press.

The Red Shirt demonstrators — consisting of supporters of Thaksin and others who believe the coup was a blow to democracy — accuse Abhisit of taking power illegitimately through back-room deals and military pressure on legislators.

Thai protesters welcome government offer, want details 05/04/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 11:47pm]

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