Let’s vote

Law­mak­ers of ma­jor op­po­si­tion party re­sign en masse to protest

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGEN­CIES in Bangkok, Thai­land

Thai Prime Min­is­ter Yingluck Shi­nawa­tra pro­poses a ref­er­en­dum on her fu­ture and prom­ises to re­sign if that is what the peo­ple want.

Thai Prime Min­is­ter Yingluck Shi­nawa­tra pro­posed a ref­er­en­dum on her fu­ture on Sun­day and promised to re­sign if that was what the peo­ple wanted, as anti-govern­ment pro­test­ers pre­pared for a fi­nal push to try to force her from power.

Thai­land’s main op­po­si­tion party, mean­while, an­nounced on Sun­day that its law­mak­ers would re­sign en masse, deep­en­ing the king­dom’s po­lit­i­cal cri­sis.

Demo­crat Party spokesman Cha­vanond In­tarako­ma­lya­sut told AFP that all of the party’s MPs would for­mally step down “as soon as pos­si­ble”.

“We de­cided to quit as MPs to march with the peo­ple against the Thaksin regime,” Demo­crat Party law­maker Siri­chok Sopha said in tele­vised re­marks.

Nine op­po­si­tion MPs re­signed ear­lier this year to lead the mass protests.

Pro­test­ers have been on the streets of the cap­i­tal for weeks, clash­ing with po­lice and vow­ing to oust Yingluck and erad­i­cate the in­flu­ence of her self­ex­iled brother, for­mer prime min­is­ter Thaksin Shi­nawa­tra.

The demon­stra­tions are the lat­est erup­tion in nearly a decade of ri­valry be­tween forces aligned with the Bangkok-based es­tab­lish­ment and those who sup­port Thaksin, a for­mer telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ty­coon who won huge sup­port in the coun­try­side with pro-poor poli­cies.

The leader of the anti-govern­ment pro­test­ers, Suthep Thaug­suban, a for­mer Demo­crat Party deputy prime min­is­ter, has called for a fi­nal demon­stra­tion on Mon­day to force Yingluck out.

Yingluck said in a tele­vised state­ment her govern­ment was search­ing for ways to end the con­flict.

“We should con­duct a ref­er­en­dum so that peo­ple can de­cide what we should do,” she said.

Suthep, aware that Yingluck and her party would likely win an elec­tion if one were called, has been urg­ing the set­ting up of a “peo­ple’s coun­cil” of ap­pointed “good peo­ple” to re­place the govern­ment.

Yingluck has dis­missed the idea as un­con­sti­tu­tional and un­demo­cratic. She did not spell out the specifics of any ref­er­en­dum but said it was in line with the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“I’m will­ing to lis­ten to pro­pos­als from the pro­test­ers. I’m not ad­dicted to this ti­tle,” she said. “I’m ready to re­sign and dis­solve Par­lia­ment if that is what the ma­jor­ity of the Thai peo­ple want.”

Suthep has told his sup­port­ers they have to take back power from what he calls the il­le­git­i­mate “Thaksin regime”, but he told them they could not rely on the army to help.

The army, which ousted Thaksin in 2006, has said it does not want to get in­volved though it has tried to me­di­ate.

Crit­ics of the govern­ment say it is il­le­git­i­mate be­cause it buys votes, but an­a­lysts say Thaksin has built up a solid base of sup­port in the coun­try­side with his pop­ulist poli­cies, which has helped him or

We should con­duct a ref­er­en­dum so that peo­ple can de­cide what we should do.” YINGLUCK SHI­NAWA­TRA THAI PRIME MIN­IS­TER

his al­lies win ev­ery elec­tion since 2001.

Thaksin fled Thai­land in 2008 to avoid a graft con­vic­tion but has re­mained closely in­volved with his sis­ter’s govern­ment. Protests were sparked last month by a govern­ment bid to in­tro­duce an amnesty that would have ex­punged his con­vic­tion.

The pro­test­ers have missed suc­ces­sive dead­lines for forc­ing Yingluck out and their num­bers have been dwin­dling. Suthep said if they were not suc­cess­ful in oust­ing the govern­ment on Mon­day, he would give up his fight.

A spokesman for the Democrats said all mem­bers would re­sign from the lower house of Par­lia­ment, where Yingluck’s party has a com­fort­able ma­jor­ity, and join Mon­day’s march.

“The party has unan­i­mously voted that all Demo­crat MPs will re­sign be­cause we can’t work with the govern­ment MPs,” spokesman Nipit In­tara­som­bat told the Na­tion Tele­vi­sion.

“This govern­ment has no le­git­i­mate power.”

With­out the Democrats, the 500-mem­ber lower house will have 347 mem­bers.

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