Thailand's government and the country's pro-democracy movement appeared no closer to resolving their differences Saturday, as the protesters' evening deadline for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to step down approached.
Prayuth's office issued a statement repeating his plea to resolve differences through Parliament, which will discuss the political situation in a special session starting Monday.
"Although the ongoing political situation comprises many opposing views among different groups, we should rather take this as an opportunity for Thais to consult each other on what is best for the nation," said the statement.
Prayuth this past week issued a call to allow Parliament to seek a solution to the crisis, and in a gesture to appease the protesters, revoked a state of emergency for Bangkok he had imposed a week earlier that made protest rallies illegal.
"If all parties are committed to exercise full restraint and flexibility, the circumstances would be more conducive to de-escalating the current tense political conflict and reaching an outcome that is acceptable to all stakeholders," said Saturday's statement, quoting government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri.
The protesters, however, said they were sticking to a deadline of 10 p.m. Saturday for Prayuth to meet their demands that he resign, and that their arrested comrades be released from jail.
One of the protest leaders, Jatupat "Pai Dao Din" Boonpattararaksa, told a crowd outside Bangkok Remand Prison that protesters should gather there Saturday and consider their next step as they wait for a response from Prayuth.