* Protesters try to block security forces from entering
* King appears on TV, makes no comment on troubles
* Rival "yellow shirts" vow action if reds are not
* Grenade lands near home of coalition politician
* Stocks up; govt to cut growth in GDP forecast
(Adds king's appearance, economic impact)
By Ambika Ahuja
BANGKOK, April 26 Protests and blockades in the
provinces on Monday, and a grenade attack against a politician,
deepened fears of a civil conflict in Thailand after the prime
minister rejected demands by anti-government protesters.
Thailand's revered King Bhumibhol Adulyadej made a rare
appearance on Thai television at a ceremony to install judges,
but made no direct comment on the political troubles in his
kingdom, urging the judges to be honest and set a good example.
Protesters fortified a sprawling encampment in Bangkok's
main shopping district and urged supporters in northern
provinces to block convoys of police and soldiers from
reinforcing the capital, adding to a growing sense of
Hopes for an end to a seven-week standoff that has
paralysed Bangkok and killed 26 people were dashed on the
weekend when Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva rejected a
proposal by the protesters for an election in three months.
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Concern is growing about the impact the prolonged protests
is having on domestic businesses, with signs that consumer
confidence is flagging, and the tourism industry -- Thailand's
biggest foreign exchange earner -- getting decimated.
The government said on Monday it may have to shave 0.64
percent point from its 2010 economic growth forecast of 4.5
percent if the protests continue another three months.
Bargain hunters bought Thai stocks, pushing the local index
.SETI up 1.3 percent, in line with most Asian markets. But
Chris Wood, an analyst at brokerage CLSA, said he had cut his
allocation of Thai stocks to zero. "All evidence still points
to a potentially inflammatory stalemate in Thai politics," he
THREATS TO MONARCHY
Underlining those concerns, a grenade was hurled late on
Sunday at a police post near the home of Banharn Silapa-Archa,
chief adviser to the Chart Thai Pattana Party, part of the
ruling coalition, wounding at least 11 people.
Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd distributed a chart on
Monday showing the names of those who authorities said may be
involved in a network to undermine the monarchy. The list
included former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, several red-shirt
leaders, academics, and others involved in anti-government
community radio stations and web sites.
Thailand has a strict lese majeste law that restricts
discussion of the country's revered institution, and has a
maximum penalty of 15 years in jail for violations of it.
The 82-year king, who has been in hospital the past seven
months, has stepped in to help resolve past political crises,
the last time in 1992. But the constitutional monarch, who is
considered a powerful symbol of unity, has made no public
statements on the current political deadlock.
The mostly rural and urban poor "red shirts", responded to
their leaders' call for resistance with a half-dozen blockades
in their north and northeast strongholds, another headache for
the Oxford-educated Abhisit, who faces pressure from many urban
middle class Thais to take a hard line against the protesters.
Hundreds manned roadblocks in at least three northeastern
provinces and around Bangkok to prevent security forces from
entering the capital ahead of what protest leaders said was an
imminent security crackdown. Local television footage showed
protesters carrying out searches, even on soldiers.
A rival protest group known as the "yellow shirts" said
they would gather on Thursday outside a heavily fortified army
barracks where Abhisit has a temporary office to urge
authorities to disperse the red shirts. They also called for
martial law in lawless areas of the country.
"Now there is a state within a state," Suriyasai Katasila,
one of the movement's leaders, told Reuters on Monday. "It's
anarchy and the government needs to do something to end that."
The yellows shirts vowed to take action if the red shirts
are not dispersed. They are well versed in street protests
themselves, besieging the prime minister's office for three
months and taking over Bangkok's airports for eight days in
PREPARING FOR BATTLE
The army chief has said repeatedly a crackdown would do
more harm than good.
Any attempt to break up the red shirt encampment -- a 3
square-km area in a ritzy shopping district -- risks heavy
casualties and the prospect of clashes spilling into high-end
Red shirt guards wearing helmets and carrying wooden spears
massed behind walls of tyres and bamboo poles at their Bangkok
encampment in preparation for battle.
Army chief Anupong Paochinda acknowledged on Sunday some
retired and inactive officers had joined the protest movement,
but sought to play down talks of a split in the armed forces.
Analysts say a well-armed rogue military element led by
retired generals back the protesters and is allied with the red
shirts' de facto leader, Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006
Analysts and diplomats say both sides want to be in power
in September during an annual reshuffle of the military, an
institution central to protecting and upholding the monarchy.
The red shirts say Abhisit came to power illegitimately in
2008, heading a coalition cobbled together with the help of the
military, after a pro-Thaksin government fell when a court
dissolved a party affiliated with him.
(Additional reporting by Viparat Jantraprap and Sukree
Sukplang; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)