Thai PM Refuses to Step Down
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she will not resign ahead of national elections set for February 2, despite opposition demands she step down as the caretaker head of government.
Yingluck spoke on Tuesday; one day after she announced elections and the main opposition leader ended a massive protest rally of 150,000 people by insisting his movement had now assumed broad political power.
The streets of Bangkok were quiet on Tuesday, a national holiday, after weeks of sometimes violent political turmoil, as protesters demanded that Yingluck give up power to an unelected "people's council".
The protesters accuse Yingluck of serving as a proxy for her billionaire brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile to avoid jail time for a corruption conviction but still wields immense influence in the country.
"I must do my duty as caretaker prime minister according to the constitution," Yingluck told reporters. "I would like the protesters to stop and to use the electoral system to choose who will become the next government."
Yingluck seemed to become choked up and emotional as she answered opposition calls for her family to be removed from the country, Al Jazeera reported.
"I'm not without emotion. I'm also Thai. Do you want me not to step foot on Thai soil anymore? "I have retreated as far as I can. So I ask to be treated fairly," she said.
Her brother Thaksin, a former telecommunications billionaire, was toppled by a 2006 military coup that laid bare a deeper conflict between Thailand's elite and largely urban middle class on one side, and Thaksin's power base in the countryside on the other.
That base benefited from his populist policies designed to win over the rural poor. Ever since, the two sides have been duelling for power, sometimes violently.
Since the latest unrest began last month, at least five people have been killed and at least 289 injured.