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US calls for dialogue as Thailand's opposition vow to step up protests

The United States has warned against a military coup in Thailand in the wake of that country’s incomplete parliamentary elections. Protesters have vowed meanwhile to step up the pressure on the government.

Speaking to reporters at the US State Department on Monday, spokesperson Jen Psaki expressed Washington's concern that political tensions in Thailand were threatening the kingdom's democracy.

She also called on Thailand's government and the opposition to resolve their differences through negotiation.

"We certainly don't take sides in Thailand's political disputes, but we continue to urge all sides to commit to sincere dialogue to resolve political differences peacefully and democratically," Psaki said. "We certainly do not want to see a coup or violence," she added.

Pskaki's statement came after the opposition pledged to step up weeks-old rallies aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government.

"We are not giving up the fight," protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said. "Our mission is to keep shutting down government offices, so don't ask us to give those back." He also announced that the protest movement would retreat from two key intersections in Bangkok, which they have occupied since January 13. The plan is to redeploy the demonstrators from those two locations to bolster five others.

Voting incomplete

Voting proceeded orderly at almost 90 percent of the polling stations in Sunday's election, but some protesters forced the closure of some in Bangkok and the south of the country. This means that not all parliamentary seats can be filled based on Sunday's voting, and that by-elections will have to be held in many constituencies. Officials say this could take months to complete - meaning there is no immediate end in sight to the country's political standoff.

Officials have withheld the partial results, pending the completion of voting.

Opposition protesters took to the streets last year after Prime Minister Yingluck's government attempted to pass amnesty legislation that would have paved the way for the return of her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006. He later fled the country to avoid going to jail after being convicted on corruption charges.

The protesters, who, regard Yingluck as a puppet for her elder brother, are demanding that an unelected people's council be appointed to introduce reforms aimed at tackling corruption.

pfd/jr (AFP, AP)

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