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Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Saturday gave assurances to Japanese investors and tourists that the political unrest in Bangkok will soon be resolved, as anti-government protesters continued to rally throughout the capital.
In a special interview with Japanese media, Yingluck said the government was handling the rallies with peaceful means and reiterated her call for dialogue with the protesters to end the conflict.
"For Japanese investors, please give us time to resolve the internal problem. As Thailand and Japan have longstanding relations, I assure you that this problem would be resolved under peaceful means," she said.
Yingluck also reiterated that the government would not use force or violence against the protesters, even though they broke the law by occupying some state agencies and ministries. She said that force would be used if necessary but that police officers would carry out the measures using international standards.
"This government comes from the people, so we won't hurt people...We have suffered enough painful experiences, so we would not allow such kind of incidents to happen again," she added.
The premier also insisted that the protesters' calls to install what they call a People's Assembly could not be met under the law. She added that a meeting attended by all groups is the best solution.
The protests started in early November after the lower house passed an amnesty bill that critics said was designed to benefit Yingluck's brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless 2006 military coup.
The bill was later voted down in the Senate, freezing the legislation the critics said was intended to pave the way for the return of Thaksin, who fled the country in 2008 after being convicted of abuse of power, corruption and other charges.
Despite the government's retreat, the protesters have continued to demonstrate in Bangkok, occupying several state agencies and ministries.
On Friday, the protesters stormed the compound of the army headquarters and asked soldiers to join their movement before being dispersed peacefully.
Protest leader Suthep Thuagsuban has called for the protesters to occupy all ministries and state agencies, including Government House, on Sunday, in order to paralyze the administration.
"No one can come to work on Monday, especially Yingluck, who always distorts information about us," Suthep said Saturday.
Suthep, a former deputy prime minister, reiterated that he would not negotiate with the government under any circumstances.
According to military sources, the government has called on the army to send military personnel to assist police in protecting sites targeted by the protesters.
"I insisted that soldiers will be unarmed and will work as the police assistants. We will not deal with protesters," one of the sources said.
Meanwhile, at Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok, pro-government "red shirt" supporters also continued their rally to lend moral support to the Yingluck administration. However, pro-government leaders have called on Yingluck to intensify law enforcement since the anti-government protesters occupied the state agencies.
Local media reported clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters in eastern Bangkok, leaving at least two people injured.
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