Protesters continue blockade of Thai PM's office

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Bangkok, Aug 27 (UNI) Thousands of anti-government protesters continued their siege of the Thai Prime Minister's office for the second day today with state authorities reluctant to act tough.

Arrest warrants were issued this afternoon for leaders of the influential civil society campaign demanding Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's resignation, but the government was still trying to negotiate a peaceful end to the blockade of his office by cadres of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

Hundreds of riot police kept a close watch on the protesters occupying the sprawling lawns of the Prime Minister's office in central Bangkok.

The blockade has forced the Cabinet to relocate its meetings to the Army headquarters with the government insisting it wanted to avoid a violent confrontation with the protesters.

The Prime Minister, in a special briefing for foreign press said the PAD was trying to provoke violence with the ultimate aim of bringing about another military takeover of the government.

More than 30,000 PAD members stormed the Prime Minister's office yesterday afternoon, climbing over the boundary walls. They also laid siege to key government ministries and briefly took over a state-run television station.

The seizure of the seat of government is a declared final assault on Mr Samak's administration by PAD which accused the Prime Minister of being a proxy of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra ousted by the armed forces two years ago.

The PAD has been organising a mass street rally against Mr Samak since May this year, forcing closure of a road in front of the Prime Minister's office.

Mass street protests mobilised by PAD in Bangkok against Mr Thaksin two years ago had culminated in the military intervention in September 2006.

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