Arguing that his government is legitimate, Somchai Wongsawat (photo, from bbc.co.uk), Thai prime minister, has rejected calls by the country’s military chief to stand down.
In order to end months of political deadlocks, army leader Gen Anupong Paochinda had asked the country’s prime minister to call snap elections.
But Mr Somchai said he would continue to work for the country.
Before the army leader’s call, Bangkok’s main airport has been occupied by anti-government protesters, forcing its closure. Mr Somchai called that move illegal.
In a televised address he said : “I reassure the people that this government, which is legitimate and came from elections, will keep functioning until the end.”
“My position is not important. But democratic values are”, he said, speaking from the northern city of Chiang Mai.
Earlier in the day, returning from a foreign trip he was unable to land in Bangkok because of the airport blockade.
A man was killed in a clash between pro and anti-government supporters in Chiang Mai, shortly after Mr Somchai’s arrival.
Another military coup
Since 2006, when former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup, Thailand has been in a state of political stalemate.
The crisis was not resolved by fresh elections at the end of 2007, when a party made up of former allies of Mr Thaksin returned to power.
Speculation that another military coup could be imminent heightened earlier in the day, after Gen Anupong’s call for polls.
But the government still has “full authority” said the army chief, denying that it was his plan.
In the meantime, the protesters occupying Suvarnabhumi airport have been ordered to leave by a Thai court.
They will stay until the government resigns, said the group, which belongs to the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). They have brought in food and blankets and appear set for a long stay.
All flights have been cancelled and thousands of Thais and foreign tourists are stranded in the Thai capital. Until the airport, one of Asia’s busiest, can reopen, frustrated passengers have been sent to hotels.
As the blockade comes at the height of the tourist season, it threatens an industry which is one of the country’s biggest earners.
The Thai government has been paralysed by the PAD’s campaign, which began in earnest in May.
The group is a loose alliance of royalists, businessmen and the urban middle class. It claims that the government is corrupt and hostile to the monarchy.
They also accuse the government of being a proxy for Mr Thaksin, who remains very popular among Thailand’s rural poor.