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Thailand's political impasse drags on
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Thai Army Commander-in-Chief Anupong Paojinda, who was assigned by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to take charge of enforcement of Emergency Decree in Bangkok, pledged that the military would stand along with "the people" and no force will be used against protesters who seized the administration seat.

The confusion was that by "the people," who weighed more in the army chief's mind -- supporters to the anti-government coalition People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) or demonstrators led by Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD)?

Violent clashes between the two groups of demonstrators in the early hours of Tuesday, which has left at least one person dead and 44 injured near the Government House compound, has prompted Prime Minister Samak declared a state of emergency in Bangkok at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday (2400GMT, Monday) through TV pool and radio broadcasters nationwide.

Samak announced that the government has bee acting with utmost restraint and tolerance with the PAD supporters, who have occupied the administration seat since Aug. 26 in what they called a "final showdown" to push for step-down of the Samak-led government, which the PAD has labelled as a proxy of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

But after the early morning violence incidents, the government had to rely on the military and police forces to bring the situation back under control.

Samak later assigned Anupong to chair a committee to take charge of the enforcement of emergency decree, which bans gathering of five or more persons -- meaning the protesters in or outside the Government House should disperse whether voluntarily or forcedly.

Samak's declaration was matched with a seemingly reluctant response from the military.

Army Chief Anupong, after calling a urgent committee meeting, said at a press conference in early afternoon that the army's enforcement of the emergency decree will be based on the "principle of democracy" and rely on negotiation, rather than use of force, and with an aim to prevent further confrontations.

Soldiers or police to be despatched to enforce the emergency decree will not carry any weapons, but only be armed with shields and batons, according to Anupong.

They will also negotiate with anti-government protesters in a bid to remove them from rally sites, which the police had been doing with anti-government protesters who have camped in the Government House for seven days, but to no avail.

Everything will be carried out in peaceful means, Anupong said.

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