Updated: 01/11/2014 03:15 | By Agence France-Presse

UN leader launches Thai mediation effort

UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Friday he had launched a bid to head off a violent showdown next week between followers of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the opposition.

UN leader launches Thai mediation effort

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives his first press conference of the year at United Nations headquarters in New York on January 10, 2014

Ban told a press conference that he has spoken with Yingluck and opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiv in the past three days "in an effort to help them bridge their differences."

"I am very concerned that the situation could escalate in the days ahead, particularly next Monday, January 13, when protestors said they will shut down Bangkok," Ban added.

"I urge all involved to show restraint, avoid provocative acts and settle their differences peacefully, through dialogue," he said.

Opposition protesters say they will occupy the capital from January 13 until they win their battle to topple Yingluck's  government.

Thai authorities say they will have nearly 15,000 police and soldiers deployed in the capital for the planned "shutdown."

Yingluck has called a February election following weeks of opposition protests. But the demonstrators have vowed to block the vote, which they say will only prolong the political dominance of her wealthy family.

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