Yingluck rejects call to step down

Yingluck rejects call to step down
Riot policemen standing guard outside an army club where Ms Yingluck held her Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Analysts expect a prolonged impasse as protesters pressure the government to give way to a people's council.

A teary-eyed Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday urged anti-government protesters camped out around her office to stop their street rallies as she rejected their call to step down before snap elections on Feb 2.

The Premier had dissolved Parliament on Monday morning, just a few hours before more than 100,000 people marched on Bangkok's streets and converged at the Government House - where her office is - in their bid to overthrow her Puea Thai party-led government.

At a rally on Monday night, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban demanded her resignation as caretaker premier within 24 hours, and urged all civil servants to report to protesters instead of the government.

Ms Yingluck, at an army club on Tuesday where she held a Cabinet meeting, said: "I have backed down to the point where I don't know how to back down any further."

Since last week, she has repeatedly said she was open to resigning or dissolving Parliament if that could help solve the current political conflict. Protest leaders, however, reject any notion of an election because Puea Thai would almost certainly win again.

The protesters are seeking to rid Thailand of the "Thaksin regime", a reference to the undue influence that Ms Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra is deemed to hold over the country. Instead, they have called for an unelected "people's council" to be led by a prime minister appointed by the King.

Thaksin is the former prime minister of Thailand who was ousted in a 2006 military coup after mass demonstrations, and currently lives overseas to evade a jail sentence for corruption. ASEAN's second largest economy was roiled by turbulence from then till 2010 as Thaksin's supporters and the pro-establishment anti-Thaksin groups vied for political dominance.

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