30 Dec 2008

New PM's speech deferred after protests

6:03 am on 30 December 2008

Protestors in Thailand have surrounded parliament, forcing the new prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, to postpone his maiden speech.

The demonstrators, loyal to the ousted former prime minister, say they will continue their blockade until Mr Abhisit resigns.

Talks on Monday failed to end the latest events in Thailand's long-running political crisis.

The speech to outline the government's plans has now been deferred to Tuesday.

Thailand has seen four prime ministers this year and months of street protests, including a week-long blockade of Bangkok's main airports.

The political impasse began in 2006 when former leader Thaksin Shinawatra was removed in a coup.

Supporters of the exiled billionaire accuse Mr Abhisit of "stealing" power.

The previous government, led by Mr Thaksin's brother-in-law, was forced out after a court disbanded three parties for fraud in a December 2007 poll.