Her eyes welling with tears,Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pleaded Tuesday for anti-government protesters to clear the streets after she called a snap election,but protest leaders said she should step down within 24 hours.
After weeks of sometimes violent street rallies,protesters dismissed her call on Monday for a general election and said she should be replaced by an unelected peoples council,which has stoked concern that Southeast Asias second-biggest economy may abandon the democratic process.
Yingluck insisted Tuesday she would not step down and said she would continue her duties as caretaker prime minister until the election,which is set for February 2.
Now that the government has dissolved parliament,I ask that you stop protesting and that all sides work towards elections, Yingluck told reporters as she went into a cabinet meeting held at an army club. I have backed down to the point where I dont know how to back down any further.
Tears briefly formed in her eyes as she spoke,before she quickly composed herself – perhaps a glimpse of the emotional toll of weeks of protests.
The protesters,a motley collection aligned with Bangkoks royalist elite,want to oust Yingluck and eradicate the influence of her brother,former premier Thaksin Shinawatra,who was toppled by the military in 2006 and has chosen to live in exile rather than serve a jail term for abuse of power.