Around Asia: Thai PM dissolves parliament to quell tensions

In Other News - December 10th, 2013
Thaiparliament

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called for a snap election on Monday after dissolving parliament, a frail attempt to quell protesters who vowed to overthrow what they call a “puppet” regime under former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s control.

Speaking on national television on Monday, the embattled premier stated her plans as a last resort to defuse the political crisis descending on Thailand.

“After listening to opinions from all sides, I have decided to request a royal decree to dissolve Parliament,” Yingluck said. “There will be new elections according to the democratic system.”

But it did little to appease anti-government protesters who remained on the streets of Bangkok for the “final battle”. Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied in the capital, with protest leaders saying they would storm the Government House, Shinawatra’s office, and vowed to uproot Yingluck’s administration and the influence of her brother.

Meanwhile, Thai opposition lawmakers resigned en masse from parliament Sunday.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has repeatedly said that calling fresh elections was not enough to end the crisis.

“The movement will keep on fighting. Our goal is to uproot the Thaksin regime. Although the House is dissolved and there will be new elections, the Thaksin regime is still in place,” Suthep said Sunday.

“We will rise up. We will walk on every street in the country. We will not be going home again,” Suthep said. “The people who will be going home empty-handed are those in the Thaksin regime.”

Violent street protests raged on for several days, only letting up during the 86th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The unrest has left five people dead and more than 200 injured.

An arrest warrant for Suthep, who left the opposition Democrat Party last month to lead the protests, has been issued on charge of treason. He could face life imprisonment or even the death penalty if convicted.

Suthep vowed to turn himself in to authorities if sufficient numbers did not join his cause on Monday. Police estimated that about 100,000 protesters were out on the streets in one of the biggest and deadliest demonstrations that has ensnared the capital since 2010.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: Jason Jones/Flickr