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Thai army head says no need for state of emergency

Written by: Staff

BANGKOK, Mar 23 (Reuters) Thailand's army chief has said he sees no immediate need for a state of emergency because a street campaign to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has remained peaceful, newspapers reported today.

After a meeting with Thaksin yesterday, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin said a prolonged rally outside Government House posed no threat to national security.

''I told him that if the military comes out too early, it will not be good for the government,'' he was quoted as saying by the English-language Nation newspaper. ''The administration will be viewed in a bad light.'' ''The protesters have remained peaceful and abided by the law. This is historic in a global context. I believe the demonstration is the most peaceful in the world, and should be recorded in the Guiness Book of World Records,'' he said.

In the last few days, stock market investors have been nervous about the possibility of a state of emergency in the run-up to a snap election on April 2.

Thaksin, who remains wildly popular among rural Thais, called the poll as an effective referendum on his leadership.

However, the three main opposition parties are boycotting the poll, making it highly unlikely it will produce a result that satisfies the constitution.

Reuters SK KP0936

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