Thai prime minister rejects calls to step down

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Thailand's prime minister has gone on television to reject his army chief's call that he step down to end the country's political crisis.

Somchai Wongsawat, who returned just hours earlier from an overseas trip, said Wednesday night that Thailand had been damaged by months of anti-government protests.

He said he was aware of calls for him to resign or dissolve parliament but that his government was elected and "a democracy under constitutional monarchy."

"My position is not important. But democratic values are," he said.

Earlier, Army commander Gen. Anupong Paochinda urged Somchai to call new elections. He also asked protesters seeking to depose the prime minister to end their occupation of the country's main airport.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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