Thai prime minister dissolves parliament, calls snap election

Monday 09 December 2013 21.57
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Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to stand for election again
Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to stand for election again
Anti-government protesters block a busy road as they march in a massive rally occupying the main roads to Government House
Anti-government protesters block a busy road as they march in a massive rally occupying the main roads to Government House
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban gestures as he rallies during a demonstration at Government Complex
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban gestures as he rallies during a demonstration at Government Complex
Protesters have vowed to oust Yingluck Shinawatra and end the influence of her brother
Protesters have vowed to oust Yingluck Shinawatra and end the influence of her brother
Protesters march to Government House in Bangkok
Protesters march to Government House in Bangkok
The protests are expected to continue despite the move to dissolve the parliament
The protests are expected to continue despite the move to dissolve the parliament

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has dissolved the country's parliament and called a snap election.

However, anti-government protest leaders pressed ahead with mass demonstrations seeking to install an unelected body to run Thailand.

About 100,000 protesters marched through Bangkok, extending a rally that descended into violence before pausing late last week to honour the king's birthday.

Blowing whistles, they vowed to oust Ms Yingluck and eradicate the influence of her self-exiled brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

"At this stage, when there are many people opposed to the government from many groups, the best way is to give back the power to the Thai people and hold an election. So the Thai people will decide," Ms Yingluck said in a televised address as the protests resumed across Bangkok.

The protesters ignored her announcement, deepening nearly a decade of rivalry between forces aligned with the Bangkok-based establishment and those who support Mr Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon who won huge support in the countryside with pro-poor policies.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said he would lead a march to Ms Yingluck's offices at Government House as planned.

"We have not yet reached our goal. The dissolving of parliament is not our aim," the former deputy prime minister under the previous military-backed government said.

Ms Yingluck's Puea Thai Party won the last election in 2011 by a landslide, enjoying widespread support in the north and northeast, Thailand's poorest regions.

The pro-establishment opposition Democrat Party has not won an election since 1992.

Ms Yingluck, Thailand's first female prime minister, will stand again.

"She will definitely run," said Jarupong Ruangsuwan, head of her party. "We want the Democrat Party to take part in elections and not to play street games."

The Election Commission has not set a date for the vote, which must be held between 45 and 60 days of a dissolution, but it is likely to be held in early February.