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Thai prime minister refuses to resign

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  • NEW: Samak says in live radio broadcast he will stay in office to "protect democracy"
  • NEW: Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag resigns
  • General strike called for Wednesday fails to materialize
  • Protesters wants the Thai prime minister to step down
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BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Thailand's embattled Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has vowed in a live radio broadcast that he will not resign, The Associated Press reported.

Samak says he will not bow to the demands of anti-government protesters and will stay in office to "protect democracy," AP reported.

"I am not resigning," Samak says in Thursday's radio broadcast, AP reported.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag resigned Wednesday, a move widely viewed as a sign that Samak was losing support from his own government, AP reported.

Samak said Tej, a respected diplomat who was appointed to his post July 27 to help ease political tensions, had been "pressured by many sides" and that his wife was not well, AP reported.

Thai protesters failed Wednesday to bring Bangkok to a standstill and cut its electricity and water supplies.

Unions failed to act on calls for a general strike, apparently fearing it would do more harm than good in a battle to depose Samak.

Protesters, who have occupied Samak's office for a week, are demanding the Thai prime minister step down, accusing him of being a proxy for his ousted predecessor, Thaksin Shinawatra.

A union leader told CNN they believed plunging the city into darkness was too much of an escalation. They were also unwilling to bring out members at the international airport -- a move that could have created chaos. Video Watch how chaos was averted »

But Samak was also dealt a blow when, after declaring a state of emergency, the army refused to act to get protesters out of his office compound.

Thitinan Pongsidhirak, political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, said: "Samak's position appears untenable now. I think his time is up. We're talking about hours and days, perhaps weeks but not months."

Thailand's embattled prime minister gave no indication Tuesday that he intends to forcibly stop anti-government street protests that have paralyzed the government and left one person dead.

Samak said in an exclusive interview with CNN: "Now we are waiting. I think by now that I have done everything that a government can do to be soft and gentle."

But when asked if now is the time for the government to harden its stance, Samak said, "No."

Samak strongly denied that Thaksin was "still pulling the strings."

"You don't you use this word to me," he told CNN's Dan Rivers. "This is an insult to me." Video Watch Samak talk to CNN »

Samak spoke to CNN hours after he declared the state of emergency in the capital city of Bangkok in response to clashes between his supporters and anti-government demonstrators that wounded 40 and left one person dead.

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It was the worst outbreak of violence since the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) launched its efforts to oust Samak.

The state of emergency order -- which overrides the country's constitution and allows the army to be in charge of enforcing laws -- forbids public gatherings of more than five people and bans the media from publishing or broadcasting images that would panic the public.

But protest leader Sondhi Limthongku said the government order will not deter his supporters from continuing their movement to oust Samak. Video Watch protesters defy the state of emergency »


Protesters also continued to occupy Government House, the government's headquarters.

PAD contends Samak is trying to amend the constitution so Thaksin -- who was ousted in a coup in 2006 -- does not have to face charges. Thaksin returned to England this month, just as he was to appear in court in a corruption case.

CNN's Dan Rivers and Kochakorn Olarn contributed to this report.

All About ThailandThaksin ShinawatraSamak Sundaravej

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