The Thai government accused ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra of stoking deadly weekend unrest as pressure mounted Tuesday on the embattled prime minister over the crippling political crisis.
In an outspoken tirade in Washington, Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya described Thaksin as a "terrorist" and directly blamed him for Saturday's unrest in the streets of Bangkok that left 21 people dead.
"Everyone is washing their hands but he is a bloody terrorist," Kasit said of Thaksin, likening him to past "elected" leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini.
He said Thaksin was an "instigator of the violence," the bloodiest civil unrest in the kingdom in two decades, and said he was financing the Red Shirts "to the tune of about 100 million baht (about three million dollars) per day."
|Red Shirt supporters of the recent anti-government protests sleep on the ground near the site of the continueing rallies in central Bangkok, on April 13.|
The international community is voicing increasing alarm over the political turmoil which turned deadly after a month of mass street protests by the "Red Shirts" seeking to oust Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Thai deputy premier Trirong Suwannakiri, who was also in Washington, even warned that if the crisis raged out of control, the army could intervene.
The military has a duty to "take care of the country and restore order," he said, cautioning that such action could be a "worst case scenario" in a country that has witnessed 18 coups since 1932. Related article: Tourists shaken
Abhisit's future is looking precarious after the Election Commission called for the abolition of his ruling Democrat Party over allegations of illegal political donations -- a move that could trigger the government's collapse. Related article: Thai PM running out of options
A government led by Thaksin's allies was brought down by a court ruling in 2008 which dissolved the then ruling party, more than two years after Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless coup after protests by the rival "Yellow Shirts."
The commission's move was hailed by the Reds, who draw their support largely from Thailand's rural poor community and are pushing for new elections and the ouster of Abhisit's government, which they charge is illegitimate and elitist.
A ruling on the commission recommendations could take months as they must first be assessed by the attorney general before being sent to the constitutional court.
And a Reds leader, Nattawut Saikuar, said their goals remained unchanged.
"We will achieve our goal when Abhisit dissolves parliament," he told reporters. "We want him to dissolve the House and have new elections, so people will decide the government."
The foreign minister said he expected a negotiated resolution to the crisis and even touched on the highly sensitive role of the monarchy in the future political life of the country.
"I do not know the outcome but I remain optimistic that we will be able to have the yellow, the red, the blue, the pink and the white coming to the negotiating table in the course of the next few days," Kasit said, referring to the different factions.
"It is a process we have to go through and we should be brave enough to talk about even the taboo subject of the institution of the monarchy."
Thaksin has been living in exile, mainly in Dubai, since 2006 to avoid a jail term for corruption at home.
Abhisit, who also blamed "terrorists" for Saturday's violence, insisted that the government remained united in how to tackle a crisis that has dealt a heavy blow to businesses in the capital and to the vital tourist sector.
He offered during talks last month to hold elections by the end of 2010 -- one year ahead of schedule -- but protesters insist on immediate polls.
Army chief Anupong Paojinda also said on Monday that he was in favour of dissolving parliament.
"We must return to politics to solve the problem," Anupong told reporters, suggesting that he was reluctant to use force again to put down the protests after the weekend bloodshed.
Seventeen civilians, including a Japanese cameraman, and four soldiers were killed after the army launched a crackdown on the Thaksin supporters. Related article: Protesters' funeral parade
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said they were "deeply saddened" by the violence and called for both the opposition and the government to return to the negotiating table after the failure of talks late last month.
Thailand's financial markets are closed from Tuesday to Thursday for public holidays as the country marks its new year.