04/22/2010, 00.00
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Bangkok: The army launches an ultimatum, the "red shirts" appeal to the UN

The military warns the crowd to disperse or risk "decisive measures" and “ chaos." The anti-government protesters have erected barricades to defend the occupied area in the commercial heart of the capital. They also want a UN peacekeeping force. The country is poised between a political agreement and civil war.

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Thai army has ordered anti-government demonstrators to leave the garrison erected in Ratchaprasong, the shopping area in downtown Bangkok. Otherwise, warn the military, we will proceed with the forced evacuation. The "red shirts" - have barricaded the area - remaining firm on their positions: the immediate dissolution of Parliament and elections. Protest leaders have also delivered a letter to the UN office in the capital, where seeking a UN peacekeeping force.

This morning, the military warned leaders of the "red shirts" - close to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in exile and supported by the opposition party United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) - warning that "not much time is left" before force will be used. Army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, said that "in order to disperse the crowd" the authorities will take "decisive measures" and "there will be chaos."  

Also this morning, the leaders of the protest reached the representation of the United Nations in Thailand and delivered a letter addressed to the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The protesters call for the dispatch of a UN peacekeeping force to monitor the occupied area in the commercial heart of the capital. The demonstrators have erected walls with tires and bamboo fences to protect themselves in case of a military attack. However, there is the increasing danger of a new bloodbath after the violence between police and opposition supporters on 10 April that caused 25 deaths and over 800 wounded.

Yesterday, the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that the protesters posses "weapons of war" allegations rejected by the leaders of the revolt, who reaffirmed the call for the immediate dissolution of Parliament and early elections.

The Prime Minister also blamed what he called "terrorists" for the recent violence and added that the movement "wants to change the political system of the nation." One of the leaders of the "red shirts" responded to the serious accusation - the crime of treason warrants the death penalty - emphasizing that it is "a pretext" used by the government to suppress protests with force.  

The political crisis has reached stalemate and the risk of further street violence looms on the horizon. However, some Thai policy experts warn that it could be the "right time" to reach an agreement. Otherwise, fractures on the political front and divisions within the army could lead Thailand to the brink of civil war.

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