Thai opposition protesters have rejected government talks to defuse their rallies after the prime minister called for an end to the demonstrations as she survived a no confidence vote in parliament.
The nearly one-month-long demonstrations are the biggest since three years ago when mass protests degenerated into the kingdom’s worst civil strife in decades with more than 90 people killed.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra received a much-needed boost as MPs in the ruling party-dominated lower house overwhelmingly rejected the censure motion against her 297-134.
The motion was filed by the opposition Democrat Party, which alleges widespread corruption in government and accuses Yingluck of acting as a puppet for her brother, the ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck – who denies the accusations – delivered a televised national address following the confidence vote, urging demonstrators to end their rallies.
“I propose to protesters to stop protesting and leave government offices so the civil service can move forward,” she said.
“The government does not want confrontation and is ready to cooperate with everybody to find a solution.”
But just hours later the demonstrators cut off the electricity to the national police headquarters in Bangkok.
The move also hit the forensic department of a hospital next door although the main facility was unaffected, the hospital director said.
So far authorities have avoided confrontation with the demonstrators and Yingluck has ruled out the use of force to end the protests.
In a speech late on Thursday, rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban said he would not “talk or negotiate” with the government and set a fresh deadline for the demos to reach their climax.
“Yingluck said the government can still govern, can still work – I want to say that they will only be able to work for a few more days, then we will not let them work anymore,” he told several thousand supporters in Bangkok.
The former opposition MP said he would outline a new rally plan on Friday evening.
“We might take action immediately. Prepare running shoes, brave hearts, backpacks, towels and packed-food,” he said.
Protesters are demanding the end of the “Thaksin regime” and want to replace the government with an unelected “people’s council” – a demand Yingluck said was impossible under the constitution.