Thai govt asks protest leader to surrender

Thai govt asks protest leader to surrender
A police officer greeting protesters as they reach out to her through the main gate of the Thai police headquarters in Bangkok.

The Thai government has ruled out further talks with the leader of ongoing protests until he surrenders to the police. Former opposition lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban, who has been helming a month-long protest against the government, faces charges for insurrection and leading the occupation of a government building.

Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who heads a special security team, was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters on Wednesday: "It is time for him to surrender because he broke the law, and anyone who gives him refuge or shelter would be deemed guilty too."

The comments came as anti-government protests in Bangkok were scaled down to prepare for the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The revered monarch turns 86, and is scheduled to address the nation, as a truce brought at least a pause to street protests that have created Thailand's most serious political unrest since 2010.

On Wednesday, a crowd of anti-government protesters briefly entered Thailand's national police headquarters on an otherwise calm morning.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who has so far refused to resign and dissolve Parliament, held a relatively uneventful meeting in Government House. This came just one day after lawns of its compound were filled with flag-waving protesters, who had battled tear gas and water cannon to breach barricades and were let through by the authorities on Tuesday in a surprising climb-down.

Within the capital's historic district, where thousands of protesters have been camping out for a month in an effort to cripple Ms Yingluck's administration, city officials and protesters joined hands to clean the wide boulevards that would be decked with lights to honour the King.

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