Thai PM rejects demand for people’s council to pick leader

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Thailand’s prime minister has rejected the demands of anti-government protesters locked in street battles with police, saying what they want is unacceptable under the constitution.

In a brief televised news conference, prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she was willing to “open every door” for negotiations to find a peaceful resolution to Thailand’s biggest political crisis in years.

But protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who met her on Sunday night, has said he will not be satisfied with her resignation or new elections. Instead, he wants an unelected “people’s council” to pick a new prime minister.

“I don’t know how we can proceed” with that, she said. “We don’t know how to make it happen. Right now we don’t see any way to resolve the problem under the constitution,” she told reporters.

“If there is any way I can restore peace I am willing to do it. The government does not have to 
hold on to power; we only want peace.”

After a weekend of chaos in pockets of Bangkok, protesters regrouped outside the heavily barricaded prime minister’s office compound yesterday and repeatedly clashed with police who fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.

The protests come just ahead of the peak holiday tourist season.