Parliament dissolved, Thai polls set for Feb 2

Parliament dissolved, Thai polls set for Feb 2

BANGKOK - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved Parliament and called for snap elections Monday, as tens of thousands of people hit the streets of Bangkok and surrounded her office in a bid to overthrow her administration.

The Royal Gazette announced that the King had approved the dissolution and polls are set for Feb 2.

But Ms Yingluck's move did not placate protesters as their aim is not fresh elections, but the creation of a "people's council" led by a royally-appointed premier. Through this, they want to rid the country of the influence of Thaksin Shinawatra, Ms Yingluck's brother, who was premier until he was deposed by a coup in 2006.

Thaksin lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai to evade a jail term for corruption convictions, which he says are politically motivated. He remains popular among the rural masses in the north-east, which guarantees election victory for the ruling Puea Thai party.

The political turmoil is the worst to hit ASEAN's second largest economy since 2010, and brings fresh uncertainty to the country, which had up to now enjoyed a relatively stable two years under Puea Thai.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, speaking to the crowd in front of the Prime Minister's Office - also known as Government House - declared the people had triumphed and rejected the authority of Ms Yingluck's caretaker government.

The dissolution came a day after the opposition Democrats resigned en masse from Parliament to join Monday's protest, saying they could not work with a government that had lost its legitimacy.

Hours before the mass resignations, Ms Yingluck had proposed a referendum, saying she was prepared to resign or call for fresh elections if that was wanted by the majority of the people.

According to the law, elections have to be called within 60 days, but it remains to be seen if it would be boycotted by the Democrats, who have not won an election since 1992.

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