Defiant Thai PM rejects protest demands in national address

Defiant Thai PM rejects protest demands in national address

BANGKOK - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday rejected the demands of anti-government protesters who are attempting to topple her, indicating she would not resign.

In a defiant address to the nation, her first since peaceful protests turned violent late Saturday, she said demands to dissolve parliament and establish a "People's Council" were unconstitutional.

Opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban's call to shift power from the elected premier to the people "does not exist under constitutional law," Yingluck said.

"Anything I can do to make people happy, I am willing to do... but as prime minister, what I can do must be under the constitution," she added.

Critics say Suthep, who on Sunday issued a two day ultimatum to the prime minister to quit, is using increasingly violent street protests to engineer a military coup to replace Yingluck's elected government.

Thailand has seen 18 actual or attempted coups since 1932, most recently with Thaksin's overthrow in 2006, but the military has appeared reluctant to intervene in the current standoff.

"The armed forces will be neutral and I know they want to see the country in peace," Yingluck said, adding her immediate aim was to restore "peace" to the capital restive streets but vowed that "police will not use force against the people."

Yingluck is the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, the wildly divisive billionaire former premier who broadly draws support form the rural and working class poor but inspires hatred from the Bangkok middle class and elite.

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