Thailand’s premier has called a snap election to try to defuse the kingdom’s political crisis but protesters have kept up their fight to topple her government with an estimated 100,000 demonstrators flooding the streets of Bangkok.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has faced more than a month of sometimes-violent street protests by demonstrators who want to suspend the country’s democracy in favour of an unelected “People’s Council”.
Thai opposition lawmakers resigned en masse from parliament Sunday, deepening the political deadlock.
Yingluck, the sister of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, announced in a televised national address Monday that she would dissolve parliament and hold a general election “as soon as possible”.
“The government does not want any loss of life,” she said, amid fears that the mass rallies could bring fresh violence.
The election move could increase pressure on protesters to agree to some kind of compromise with the government.
But the leaders of the anti-government movement said that they were not satisfied with new elections, pledging to rid Thailand of the influence of Thaksin, a tycoon-turned-premier who was ousted by royalist generals in a coup seven years ago and now lives abroad.
“The movement will keep on fighting. Our goal is to uproot the Thaksin regime. Although the House is dissolved and there will be new elections, the Thaksin regime is still in place,” protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban told AFP.
“My people want more than dissolution. They are determined to regain their sovereignty,” he said.
Thaksin – who once described Yingluck as his “clone” – is widely considered the de facto leader of the ruling party.
Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election in more than a decade and despite the mass protests, many experts believe Yingluck’s party is likely to triumph in new elections.
The opposition Democrat Party – which said Sunday its 153 MPs were resigning from the 500-seat lower house because they could not achieve anything in parliament – has not won an elected majority in about two decades.