Thailand’s beleaguered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday dissolved parliament and called a snap polls,even as thousands of protesters took to the streets to install a “People’s Council” to run the country.
“After listening to opinions from all sides,I have decided to request a royal decree to dissolve Parliament,” Yingluck said in a televised address.
“There will be new elections according to the democratic system,” said the 46-year-old prime minister who came to power in 2011.
Election Commission (EC) member Sodsri Sattayatham said a general election to elect the 500-seat lower house will be held within 60 days,or before February 2,2014. Under Thai election law,fresh polls must take place in the next 60 days.
However,anti-government protesters,who have been calling for Yingluck’s government to be replaced with an unelected “People’s Council”,said the rallies will continue.
Protesters accuse the prime minister of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother and former premier Thaksin Shinwatra.
Suthep Thaugsuban,the top leader of the anti-government protests,said demonstrators would “blow the final whistle” today in an attempt to uproot the “Thaksin influence” from the country.
Over one lakh protesters besieged Government House this morning,prompting the authorities to cancel a plan to invite foreign diplomats to observe the situation there.
Yingluck today said she will remain the head of the interim government. “The situation seems likely to escalate to violence so the government has decided to return power to the people and let them decide through elections,” she said.
However,protest leaders Satit Wongnongtaey and Tavorn Senieum demanded her resignation following House dissolution.
Satit told protesters that House dissolution was only the first victory but was not enough for achieving real democracy.
He said the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee led-by Suthep wants the “People’s Council” to be formed and the caretaker cabinet to resign.
Meanwhile,Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said he believed Yingluck would run in the next election although she had not yet spoken about it.
Protest leaders,most of them former opposition Democrat MPs,however,said that the setting up of a “People’s Council” was necessary to ensure that “Thaksin Regime and its servants will not return”.
Thai interior minister and two deputy prime ministers issued an urgent statement on NBT channel to urge people and student to stop joining the protests and return home. They said protesters should stop for the sake of the country and should protect democracy.
Opposition MPs on Sunday resigned en masse to join the anti-government protests.
The opposition Democrat Party leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had said its 153 MPs were resigning from the 500-seat lower house – a move that does not prevent the ruling Puea Thai party from passing new laws but leaves parliament facing questions about its legitimacy.
The Election commissioner has said the Democrat Party MPs who had resigned could register again and contest the polls.
The EC will also cancel the December 22 by-elections to fill eight seats previously left vacant by the resignation of Democrat MP last month to lead an all-out protest against the Yingluck administration.
“There will be new elections according to the democratic system…The people will decide what the majority wants and who they want to government the country,” Yingluck said in an effort to defuse the over two-week long crisis.
Five persons have died and hundreds injured in the anti-government protests in Thailand’s worst political turmoil since the 2010 rallies that swept Abhisit from power.
Thousands of “red-shirt” Thaksin supporters occupied key parts of the capital in 2010. More than 90 people,mostly civilian protesters,died over the course of the two-month sit-in.