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Thailand nears political anarchy as protesters parade dead

Red-shirt protesters paraded coffins through Bangkok today as they geared up their pressure on the government to step down.The army leader has also called for parliament to be dissolved after deadly violence in the capital between troops and protestors on Saturday left 21 people dead and more than 830 injured.

The fighting ended in a stalemate after soldiers and police backed down, starting an informal truce. But no solution is in sight as the south east Asian nation slides closer towards political anarchy.The Election Commission has ruled that there is enough evidence to charge Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s party over illegal donations. Its decision must now be sent to the attorney-general's office for referral to the Constitutional Court. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva today blamed the bloodshed, the worst political violence Thailand has seen in two decades, on a small group of ‘terrorists’, rather all the red shirt protesters, but he still refuses to dissolve his government.

Today protestors carried round several coffins with bodies of those killed in Saturday's violence. "Red Shirts will never negotiate with murderers," protest leader Jatuporn Prompan announced. "Although the road is rough and full of obstacles, it's our duty to honour the dead by bringing democracy to this country" Associated Press news service quoted him as saying. The anti-government protesters are mostly poor people living in the Thai countryside who support the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They have been gathered in the city for the past month, basing themselves in the historic old city and on Bangkok’s main shopping street. The Red Shirts view the present government as a symbol of the ruling elite they say orchestrated the 2006 mililitary coup that removed Thaksin from power amid allegations of corruption.

Last week the Thai government called a national state of emergency allowing the military to ban groups of more than five people gathering, impose curfews and sensor the media in a bid to restore order.
Local newspapers said political parties in the coalition government were pressuring Prime Minister Abhisit to compromise with the protesters by dissolving Parliament in the next six months instead of by year's end, as he had pledged. He must call elections by the end of 2011. "The government should be more flexible in their attempt to resolve the situation. It's their duty to seek for a solution that's possible and acceptable for both sides," said Nogsuan Sawasdee, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University. He predicted more violence in the next two weeks.

By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children