Thai anti-government protesters said on Monday they will seriously consider a proposal by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to hold a Nov. 14 election in a "reconciliation" plan aimed at ending a violent political crisis.
"We will talk about it and discuss his proposal seriously and decide what our position is. We cannot just reject or accept it immediately," Jatuporn Prompan, a protest leader, told Reuters.
"The most important thing is we will consider this seriously," he added.
Thousands of protesters have paralysed Bangkok, showing no sign of leaving the city's main shopping district, in a two-month crisis that has killed 27 people and wounded nearly 1,000.
It was unclear whether thousands of "red shirt" protesters occupying Bangkok's main commercial district to demand parliament be dissolved and an election held within three months would agree to the compromise offer.
"This is quite constructive and we want to engage in a constructive dialogue. So we will be discussing the prime minister's proposal seriously," Weng Tojirakarn, a protest leader, told Reuters.
He said the protesters would discuss the proposal on Tuesday. Another protest leader, Jatuporn Prompan, said he was encouraged by the offer but that it contrasted with recent military statements warning the red shirts to end their campaign.
On Monday, thousands of the red-shirted supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra remained in their 3 sq km (1.2 sq-mile) fortified encampment.
Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd told reporters the security forces could use armoured vehicles to disperse the protesters, but did not indicate when such a move might happen.
"Armoured vehicles will be sent in to ensure safety for troops and police," he said. "These vehicles will allow us to move to protesters without using arms if not necessary."
The mostly rural and urban poor red shirts say Abhisit lacks a popular mandate after coming to power in a controversial parliamentary vote 17 months ago and heading a coalition cobbled together with help from the military.
The crisis underscores a widening fault line in Thai society between the establishment -- big business, royalists, the military brass and the urban middle classes -- and the protesters who broadly back Thaksin, who lives abroad to escape a jail sentence handed down for corruption.
ReutersLast Mod: 04 Mayıs 2010, 08:26