Thai premier denies Thaksin involvement in political turmoil

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra insisted Thursday her older brother, ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is not involved in the current political crisis and reiterated unity with military.

Responding reporters' questions, Yingluck refused to say how long the political turmoil would last, but she said all sides should take part in a process to bring normalcy to the country and move reform forward.

She also said Thaksin is not involved with her administration.

"It is not true (Thaksin is involved). I'm doing my job, you can see...please be optimistic, maybe we will have some good news in our country," she said.

On relations with the military, Yingluck said she recently held talks with military leaders on the regular schedule, but the latest meeting with army chief Prayut Chan-ocha on Wednesday was unrelated to rumors about a deepening rift between the government and the military that could lead to a coup.

She said frequent meetings with military leaders could avoid misunderstandings and violence.

"I believe no one wants to see violence or a coup, which is unacceptable in the international community. It is useless to do so," she added.

Rumors of a rift between the Yingluck government and the military have been spreading in local media since government supporters mentioned separatism during a big meeting near the end of February and at a recent rally in northeastern Thailand.

Some "redshirts" said on satellite television they wanted to create another country in the north and northeast and banners about separatism have also been seen in some provinces.

But Yingluck, and some redshirt leaders, have said the redshirt movement and the ruling Pheu Thai party have same position -- one country.

Armed forces chief Prayut insisted Thursday the military is neutral in the current political situation and urged the conflicting parties to find a solution instead of "having a quarrel."

"I feel uncomfortable in this situation. We are all Thais, why do we have to fight each other...we help all sides, especially during natural disasters," Prayut said at a press conference.

The antigovernment protest led by former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban continues and is pressuring government agencies.

A small group of protesters also went to foreign embassies in Bangkok to submit a letter about their movement against the government.

Antigovernment protests began in November after the lower house of parliament passed an amnesty bill Yingluck's opponents said was aimed at benefiting Thaksin.

The bill was rejected by the Senate.