Thai military chief rebuffs meeting request in blow to protesters

Riot policemen stand guard at the Government House during an anti-government protest in BangkokBy Amy Sawitta Lefevre BANGKOK (Reuters) – The head of Thailand's armed forces has turned down a request for a meeting in a huge blow to the leader of anti-government protesters who had asked police and military chiefs to choose sides in the crisis amid dwindling public support. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called a snap election for February 2 but that has not satisfied the protesters, whose leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, wants an unelected "people's council" to run the country. On Monday, 160,000 had gathered round Yingluck's office but the number has dropped to just a few thousand since then. The politically powerful army has staged or attempted 18 coups in the past 80 years, including the ousting of Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in 2006, but it has said it does not want to get involved this time although it may mediate.

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