Thai snap-election set for April 2, 2006

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

In the face of mounting pressure and a hostile political climate in urban areas, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has announced the dissolution of the lower house, the House of Representatives of the country's parliament.

The move follows an audience earlier today with the King at the Dusit Palace and is despite defiant statements yesterday that the PM would neither step down nor dissolve parliament. An increasing number of voices have questioned Thaksin's suitability to hold the office of Prime Minister, with a petition to the Constitutional Court and a student-led petition for his impeachment contributing to the political uncertainty.

The Prime Minister announced the decision in a live TV broadcast, offering to "accept and respect the public's decision" in the forthcoming election. Following discussions with the Election Commission of Thailand, he stated that the election – required to be held within 60 days – would be on April 2. This should lead to the Lower House reconvening on May 2. Election of a Prime Minister and appointment of Cabinet ministers would be the first item of business.

Protestors who are planning a mass demonstration at Sanam Luang in Bangkok this Sunday are undeterred by the move. According to Suriyasai Katasila they will protest anyway, aiming for resignation "because Prime Minister Thaksin is the centre of the problem".

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