Saturday, March 2, 2024

Thai PM offers to hold fresh polls, Opp MPs to resign

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Bangkok: Thailand’s embattled premier Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday offered to dissolve Parliament and hold fresh elections within 60 days, even as opposition MPs decided to resign en masse and join the anti-government protests ahead of tomorrow’s “D-Day” rally to oust her.
“I’m ready to resign and dissolve parliament if that is what majority of the Thai people want,” she said in a special televised programme to defuse the over two-week long crisis. She, however, warned that the political crisis would prolong if the protesters reject her offer.
“We should conduct a referendum so that people can decide what we should do,” said the 46-year-old prime minister who came to power in 2011. Unmoved by Yingluck’s proposal, Sathit Wongnongtoey, a core rally leader, told a cheering crowd that the Democrat Party MPs reached the decision to resign and join the anti-government protests at a meeting.
Sathit challenged Yingluck to dissolve the lower house of parliament right away. Sathit suggested Yingluck should set up a People’s Council to reform politics. Nine Democrat MPs had already resigned when the massive protests against the government began last month.
Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister and the leader of the anti-government protesters, has called for a final “blow” to force Yingluck out of power. Commenting on the proposed protests, Yingluck said she was ready to listen to the protesters’ demands in order to find acceptable solutions, the Nation online reported.
“I’m willing to listen to proposals from the protesters. I’m not addicted to this title,” she said. Authorities are planning to deploy hundreds of police personnel tomorrow to protect key state buildings. Suthep, who is facing an arrest warrant for anti-government activities, has said he would turn himself in if the protesters could not topple the government.
Security has been beefed up in areas where the Internal Security Act is in place, National Security Council Secretary General Paradorn Pattanatabut said yesterday. The act would allow authorities to impose curfew, and set up roadblocks and restrict the movement of demonstrators.
For the past two weeks, thousands of protesters have marched in Bangkok in a bid to unseat Yingluck, whom they accuse of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother and former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Suthep has asked people to leave their offices or houses and join the demonstrations to show their support to uproot “Thaksin Regime” as well as what he alleged was the corrupt and illegitimate government. The protesters and security forces last week observed a brief truce for two days to mark revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 86th birthday. Five persons have died and hundreds injured in the anti-government protests in Thailand’s worst political turmoil since the 2010 rallies that ended in violence. In 2010, thousands of “red-shirt” Thaksin supporters occupied key parts of the capital. More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month sit-in. (PTI)

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