Army chief calls for polls after stopping siege

BANGKOK - Thailand's powerful army chief stepped in to end the siege of Bangkok's main airport.

BANGKOK - Thailand's powerful army chief stepped in to end the siege of Bangkok's main airport.

He told Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat yesterday to call new elections and the anti-government protesters to disperse.

General Anupong Paojinda denied he was staging a coup, but with Bangkok's airport and main government offices now in the control of protesters and lawlessness spreading, he said Wongsawat should hold new polls.

"We will send him a letter to inform him that he must dissolve the house and call new elections," Paojinda said after an urgent meeting of military and business leaders to address the deepening crisis.

"This is not a coup. The government still has full authority.

These points are the way to solve the problem which has plunged the country into a deep crisis.

"If I launch a coup the problems would be solved once and for all. But there would be a lot of consequences, including the international reaction," he said.

Somchai is en route back home from Peru.

He will be greeted by escalating chaos led by the People's Alliance for Democracy, who are determined to topple his government.

Protesters yesterday had tightened their grip on the country's international airport, where two people were hurt in a blast and thousands left stranded on the third day of PAD's renewed protest campaign.

PAD launched its campaign in May, accusing the government of being a corrupt puppet of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in a coup in 2006. - Sapa-AFP

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