Thai opposition MPs quit as 'final showdown' looms

Thai opposition MPs quit as 'final showdown' looms
Thailand's opposition leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (bottom row 2nd Left) speaks during a news conference as his party members listen at the Democrat Party headquarters in Bangkok December 8, 2013.

BANGKOK - Thai opposition lawmakers resigned en masse from parliament Sunday, deepening the kingdom's political crisis as anti-government protesters vowed a final showdown despite an election offer from the embattled prime minister.

Bangkok is bracing for another major opposition demonstration on Monday aimed at toppling Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and curbing the political influence of her brother Thaksin.

The kingdom has been rocked by several episodes of political bloodshed since Thaksin, a billionaire tycoon-turned-premier, was ousted by royalist generals in a coup seven years ago.

Yingluck's government has been shaken by more than a month of rolling rallies by demonstrators, sometimes numbering in their tens of thousands, who want to suspend the country's democracy in favour of an unelected "People's Council".

The opposition Democrat Party said Sunday that its 153 MPs were resigning from the 500-seat lower house - a move that does not prevent Yingluck's Puea Thai party from passing new laws but which leaves parliament facing questions about its legitimacy.

"We performed our duty in parliament as best we could," said Democrat leader and former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva. "We cannot do any more. We regret that the majority in parliament betrays the voice of the people."

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