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Tourists take off, as stalemate simmers -

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ELEANOR HALL: To Thailand now where the airports have reopened, but the political crisis is far
from over.

Thousands of holiday-makers on the island of Phuket were scrambling to get home over the weekend,
as anti-government protesters shut down the airport there and in other centres in the country's
south.

The country's prime minister is refusing to give in to their demands that he step down.

But the protesters are just as determined as South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy reports.

KAREN PERCY: Every person who wants to join in the protest by the People's Alliance for Democracy
has to pass through several security checks.

Portable toilets are lined up outside the gate. Food stations have been set up. There are resting
spots. And people are camping out nearby the grand staircases and enjoying the ornate water
fountains that are usually the reserve of Thailand's political leaders.

Thousands of people are gathered about a large professional sound stage where all night and all day
rousing anti-government speeches and patriotic music keep the people focused.

They are doctors. They are teachers. They are students. They are managers. And they all believe
this government voted in by the rural masses who are firmly in favour of disgraced former prime
minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, has to go.

VOX POP: Give the poor people everything they want. Something like that but they use our money.

KAREN PERCY: General Chamlong Srimuang is one of the leaders of the People's Alliance for
Democracy. Arrest warrants are out for him and eight of his senior colleagues.

CHAMLONG SRIMUANG: I didn't break the law. We abide by the Constitution otherwise we can not do
something like this.

KAREN PERCY: The protesters here are unconcerned about the chaos that's being caused elsewhere.
Three regional airports were shutdown over the weekend because of blockades.

The airports in Krabi and Phuket are the lifeline for the tourism industry in the southern part of
the country and thousands of visitors were forced to change their plans or were simply left to wait
it out at the airport.

Security has been stepped up at Bangkok airport and in Chiang Mai which are both major regional
travel hubs. The PAD is said to have threatened those as well.

But General Chamlong says the direction didn't come from him.

CHAMLONG SRIMUANG: We worry about tourism.

KAREN PERCY: But you've been the ones who have shut down the airports.

CHAMLONG SRIMUANG: No. It is not my intention. They did by themselves because of the Government, so
the easy way to solve this problem is that the Government is supposed to resign. Very, very, very
easy.

KAREN PERCY: But of course they are not going to resign which leaves you at a stalemate. How far
will you go?

CHAMLONG SRIMUANG: I cannot predict.

KAREN PERCY: But already the union movement is threatening to escalate the action and the
Government seems powerless to stop it. Mr Samak says he was elected to the job and won't step down.

An emergency parliamentary debate yesterday exposed further the deep divisions within Thai society
and law-makers offered little in the way of a solution - preferring to point fingers instead.

With pro-government forces starting to mobilise there is a real fear that while the politicians
squabble, the army will have no choice but to intervene yet again.

This is Karen Percy in Bangkok reporting for The World Today.