Thailand’s main opposition Democrat Party on Saturday decided to boycott the February 2 snap polls and join anti-government rallies seeking to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of office.
Facing continuous street protests led by former Democrat leader Suthep Thaugsuban,Yingluck dissolved parliament and called an early poll on December 9 to try to ease tensions.
But the opposition is determined to replace her government with an unelected “People’s Council”.
“The meeting of party executives and former party lawmakers resolved that the Democrat Party will not send candidates to contest in the February 2,2014 general election,” Democrat leader and former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva said.
“We don’t believe the February 2 election will lead to true reform and restore public confidence in the system.”
Democrat Party lawmakers resigned en masse from parliament earlier this month to march with former deputy premier Suthep.
They plan to hold mass rallies at sites across the capital tomorrow.
The Thai Election Commission,however,said the February polls would go ahead as planned and registration of candidates will start on Monday.
Yingluck,who protesters accuse of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother and former premier Thaksin Shinawatra,has promised to set up a “people’s council” for political reform after the elections.
She urged all political parties to contest the polls in order to uphold the rule of law and ensure reforms through the parliamentary system.
“The government realises that the country needs to be reformed. However,the reforms should run in line with democratic principals,” Yingluck said in a televised address.
Yingluck’s troubles escalated in November when her Pheu Thai Party tried to push an amnesty bill that would have nullified the graft conviction of her brother Thaksin.
Thaksin was toppled in a 2006 coup and remains highly influential,despite having lived in self-exile since 2008.
Meanwhile,the chief of the powerful army,Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha,expressed concern about the risk of civil war if the political conflict continues.
He proposed the formation of a people’s assembly comprising “all colours” to help heal the divide.
The army chief stressed that the proposed assembly would bear little resemblance to the “People’s Council” proposed by Suthep.
“The people’s assembly must not be organised or sponsored by any conflicting group,as it would not be accepted by the other side,” he said.
At least five persons died and hundreds were injured during anti-government protests in Thailand’s worst political turmoil since the 2010 rallies that swept Abhisit from power.