Thai police stand down as tensions with protesters ease


Anti-government protesters occupy the grounds of Government House after police dismantle barricades preventing access on December 3, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand.


Rufus Cox

Tensions eased in Thailand Tuesday, following days of protests, as police lifted barricades that surrounded the central police station and other government buildings, welcoming protesters with handshakes.

The Thai government, led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, has refused to step down despite massive street protests calling for her resignation.

Shinawatra said she had reached a truce with protesters to halt demonstrations in order to honor the birthday of the country's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turns 86 on Thursday.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban vowed that the fight to remove the prime minister would continue after the truce.

"We will continue fighting until Thaksin's regime is definitively wiped out," he said.

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Anti-government protesters have been surrounding and occupying government buildings in Bangkok for the last ten days.

Largely peaceful demonstrations by the so-called "yellow shirt" protesters turned violent over the weekend with protesters clashing with police.

Four people were killed and hundreds of others injured during street battles.

The yellow shirts are seeking to topple Shinawatra's democratically-elected government and replace it with an unelected "people's council," claiming the former bought the last election.

The tension began when a controversial amnesty bill was sent to the country's parliament, potentially allowing self-exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra to return to power. Thaksin, the current premier's brother, was ousted from power in 2006.

The bill failed in the Senate but sent up to 100,000 into the streets in daily protests against the government.