Fresh protests in Thailand as opposition boycotts polls

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Poll boycott: Fresh protests in Thailand
Bangkok, Dec 22: Thousands of Thai protesters today swarmed all over Bangkok to bring down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government, a day after the main opposition party declared a boycott of the February 2 snap polls.

Protest leaders say they expect a turnout of hundreds of thousands of people. Yesterday, the main opposition Democrat Party said it will boycott the snap elections called by Yingluck earlier this month in a bid to end weeks of protests.

The council would have the duty of proposing long-term reforms for the country

Yingluck announced a roadmap for national reform yesterday that would go hand in hand with the snap election, requiring all political parties to pledge to honour the reform process after the election. Democrat Party appeared unconvinced, calling it a ploy to try and discourage the large numbers of people expected to join anti-government protests in Bangkok today.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said he hoped today's rally will raise the pressure on Yingluck and her government. Under Yingluck's plan, all parties would have to pledge that the new government holds power for only two years to see through the national reform process.

Its mandate would be the creation of the reform council to work side by side with the new government. The reform council would represent peoples from all walks of life - both at local and national level - along with those representing various professions.

The caretaker premier said the national reform council would have a working mandate of two years to coincide with the next administration. The council would have the duty of proposing long-term reforms for the country, particularly political reforms, "so future politics can truly speak for the people", Yingluck said.

Thailand's opposition Democrat Party yesterday said it will boycott the February 2 general elections, spelling political uncertainty for the country which has been witnessing anti-government demonstrations over the past month. At a news conference yesterday, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters his party had agreed it would not field candidates in the snap elections.

"The Thai people have lost their faith in the democratic system," he said, adding that "Thai politics is at a failed stage". Yingluck won the last elections in 2011, but protesters say her brother - the controversial ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra - remains in charge.

PTI

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