Thai PM says no plan for elections this year

BANGKOK, July 2, 2010 (AFP) - Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Friday he had no plans to hold elections this year because more time was needed for reconciliation following the deadliest political unrest in decades.

"The government is not ruling out dissolution (of the lower house of parliament) or early elections but the atmosphere must be more reconciliatory," he said live on television.

"I am not intending to dissolve the House before the end of the year because at the moment my government has stability to pursue policies which benefit people," he said, adding that it would be better to hold the vote in 2011.

Abhisit had proposed November polls in a bid to end two months of crippling protests in Bangkok by the "Red Shirts" movement, but he shelved the plan because demonstrators refused to disperse until the army quashed the rally.

The British-born, Oxford-educated head of the establishment Democrat Party does not have to go to the polls until the end of next year.

His Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said last month on a trip to Brussels that elections could be held in early 2011.

The mass protests by the Reds, who were campaigning for immediate elections, sparked outbreaks of violence that left 90 people dead, mostly civilians, and nearly 1,900 injured, ending with a deadly army crackdown on May 19.

Abhisit launched a hotline on Thursday for people to ring in with their suggestions for national reconciliation after the kingdom's political crisis.

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