Image: Thai soldiers
Vincent Thian  /  AP
Thai soldiers take a break in downtown Bangkok on Wednesday. Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, subject of an arrest warrant, is urging the country's king to intervene in the political crisis.
updated 4/15/2009 9:20:20 PM ET 2009-04-16T01:20:20

Exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged Thailand's widely respected king on Wednesday to intervene in a political conflict that led to the capital being paralyzed for several days of violent demonstrations by the ousted politician's supporters.

The appeal came after the government announced it revoked the personal passport of Thaksin, who it accuses of stoking the protests. He has been on the run since fleeing Thailand ahead of a corruption conviction last year, returning only once — briefly — while his allies were in power.

A day after a mounting crackdown by the army led his supporters to end demonstrations that resulted in two deaths and 123 injuries, Thaksin said King Bhumibol Adulyadej should help quell the political unrest.

"I have urged his majesty to intervene," Thaksin said in an interview with France-24 television from Dubai. "He is the only person that can intervene ... otherwise the violence will become wider and also the confrontation would be more and more."

The 81-year-old monarch is revered in this Southeast Asian nation, enjoying wide support among Thais regardless of political affiliation.

Thaksin said the king should work to reconcile the factions in Thailand, which has been wracked by a growing rift between the ousted leader's mainly poor, rural backers and the urban elites who support his opponents.

Passport revoked Sunday
The government said Thaksin's personal passport was revoked Sunday. It had already revoked his diplomatic passport.

"If we believe the person who holds the passport is doing anything that could undermine the security of the nation, then we have the right to revoke the passport," Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said.

Since fleeing, Thaksin has been spotted in Central America, London, Dubai and Hong Kong, among other places. He has said previously that several countries have offered to issue him passports.

A state of emergency remained in place Wednesday, with soldiers continuing to patrol key intersections in the capital.

Police were searching for the protest leaders, only three of whom were in custody, checking airports in case some tried to flee the country, local television stations said. The three in custody were expected in court Thursday, their lawyers said.

Bringing the protests to an end and rounding up the leaders may prove to be the easy part, analysts said Wednesday. The harder task will be to restore Thailand's battered image abroad and heal internal divisions that have caused continuing unrest since Thaksin's ouster in a 2006 coup.

Conciliatory but tough stance
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva struck a conciliatory but tough stance hours after the demonstrations ended, insisting that protest leaders would be prosecuted but also offering to sit down with all parties.

Thaksin's supporters — the "red shirts" — are drawn largely from the impoverished countryside where his populist policies have broad support. On the other side are the "yellow shirts," a mix of the ruling elite royalists, academics, professionals and retired military.

Following the coup, Thaksin's allies were returned to power, setting off prolonged demonstrations by the yellow shirts that culminated in the weeklong occupation of Bangkok's airports late last year.

Those protests ended after court rulings removed two prime ministers from office, paving the way for Abhisit's rise to power, but setting off the rival — and most recent — demonstrations.

"We are at a critical juncture now," said Thitinan Pongsidhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University. "Will the uprising we've seen be taken as a wake up call by the Abhisit government or be seen as just a nuisance, something suppressed by the government?"

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Unrest in Thailand spreads

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  1. Thai anti-government protesters leave the stage area after leaders called off their rally outside the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, April 14, 2009. Leaders of demonstrations that plunged the Thai capital into chaos Tuesday called off their protests following rioting and clashes that left two dead and more than 120 injured across Bangkok. Several were then taken into police custody. (Vincent Yu / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A Thai Buddhist monk carries a fan past lines of policemen as he leaves the site of an anti-government rally at the premier's office, in Bangkok. (Christophe Archambault / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A Thai anti-government protester poses for a picture with his ID card before walking through a line of soldiers outside the government house in Bangkok, Thailand. Authorities required each protester to pose for a picture with their ID card before leaving the area. (Vincent Yu / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra raise a white cloth and their arms before leaving the Government House area in Bangkok. (Kerek Wongsa  / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. An unidentified man with a head injury walks through police lines to a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. (David Longstreath / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Thai soldiers detain an anti-government protestor following a clash in down town Bangkok, Thailand. (Vincent Yu / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Thai soldiers advance on anti government supporters near Government House near a burned out bus, during pitched battles in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand. (Barbara Walton / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Members of the Thai military take over the streets as gun battles break out during violent protests on Monday. (Paula Bronstein / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Supporters of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra prepare petrol bottles as they confront armed troops in a main road in Bangkok on Monday. (Dario Pignatelli / Polaris) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Anti-government protesters plead with the Thai military as gun battles break out during violent protests on Monday. (Paula Bronstein / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A supporter of Thai ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra walks past a burning bus near the United Nations building in Bangkok on Monday, April 13. Thai troops fired warning shots and tear gas at protesters as the government launched a crackdown to enforce a state of emergency. Monday's clashes left at least one person dead and more than 75 others injured. (Nicolas Asfouri / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Thai army soldiers gather in front of Bangkok's Ananta Samakon palace before facing supporters of exiled ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Monday. (Nicolas Asfouri / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Supporters of exiled Thai ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra clash with troops in front of the United Nations building in Bangkok on April 12. (Nicolas Asfouri / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Thai soldiers use a water cannon against anti-government protesters during a protest in Bangkok on Monday. (Sakchai Lalit / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Anti-government protesters pray before monks after occupying the Government House area of the Thai capital on Monday. (Nyein Chan Naing / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Soldiers watch supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Bangkok on Monday. Thai troops repeatedly fired into the air to break up violent protests. (Chaiwat Subprasom / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Medical workers transport an injured protester after a clash with soldiers in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday. (Vivek Prakash / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A Thai man hands flowers to soldiers during a protest in Bangkok on Monday. (Wason Wanichakorn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A Thai Buddhist monk calls on soldiers to stop firing as they battle with anti-government protesters in Bangkok on Monday. (Barbara Walton / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Thai soldiers point to protesters who threw a fire bomb at them after the troops cleared an intersection in downtown Bangkok on Monday. (Vincent Yu / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Niphon Promphan, a driver for a Thai government minister, sits in a car after being attacked by protesters near the Interior Ministry in Bangkok on April 12. (Str / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Thai soldiers watch Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announcing a state of emergency on TV in Bangkok on April 12. (Vincent Yu / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya, right, and his wife Jintana Piromya, left, are carried by security guards to a waiting speedboat after anti-government protesters stormed the venue hosting a summit of Asian leaders in Pattaya, Thailand, on April 11. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Thai soldiers attempt to stop protesters from entering the venue hosting a summit of Asian leaders in Pattaya, Thailand, on April 11. The meeting was later canceled for security reasons. (How Hwee Young / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Anti-government demonstrators storm into a venue hosting a summit of Asian leaders in Pattaya, Thailand, on April 11. Protesters forced their way into the convention hall by smashing through glass doors. (David Longstreath / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. An anti-government protester screams as she tries to climb past army soldiers barricading the front entrance of a conference center that was due to host a summit of Asian leaders in Pattaya, Thailand, on April 10. (Nyein Chan Naing / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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