Turmoil in Thailand: UN chief Ban Ki Moon concerned by protests

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - UN leader Ban Ki Moon raised fears on Wednesday over attempts by Thailand's opposition to bring down the government through worsening street protests.

Mr Ban "is concerned by the rising political tensions in Bangkok", said his spokesman Mr Martin Nesirky as protests spread beyond the Thai capital.

"The Secretary-General calls on all sides to exercise the utmost restraint, refrain from the use of violence and to show full respect for the rule of law and human rights."

Mr Ban welcomed government assurances "that it will continue to respect the rights of people to hold peaceful demonstrations," said the spokesman.

"The Secretary-General is concerned about reports of government institutions being occupied by the protesters."

Opposition demonstrators are seeking to bring down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra by paralysing government ministries and staging the biggest street protests since mass rallies in 2010.

"The Secretary-General strongly encourages all concerned to resolve their differences through genuine dialogue and peaceful means," said Mr Nesirky.