Tensions remain high in Bangkok as protestors demand that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resign and call new elections. Anti-government crowds have taken over the main commercial shopping district, closing stores and businesses, and clashes with security forces left 21 people dead and many more injured.
The standoff is the latest confrontation in a deep split that has roiled the nation since 2006, when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinwatra was deposed in a non-violent coup backed by the military. Mr. Abhisit says he is willing to negotiate a settlement with the protest leaders, many of whom are followers of the former prime minister, but they have rejected his offer.
The U.S. calls on all parties to show restraint going forward and uphold the rule of law. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a video message to the people of Thailand on April 12, expressed sadness about the recent violence and loss of life. It is hoped that the opposition and the government return to the negotiating table and seek agreement on a way forward that strengthens Thailand's democracy and the rule of law. The challenges that Thailand is facing cannot be resolved by force, but only by dialogue. The United States believes firmly that a negotiated solution is possible.
With good will and the interests of the nation at heart, even sharp disagreements can be resolved peacefully through earnest negotiation. The United States strongly supports the Thai nation and its people during this difficult period.