UK & World News

  • 8 December 2013, 14:02

Thailand: PM Offers Referendum To End Protests

Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has proposed a referendum on her future as anti-government protesters prepare for a final push to force her from power.

Demonstrators have been on the streets of Bangkok for weeks, vowing to oust Ms Yingluck and eradicate the influence of her 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 Mr Thaksin.

Underscoring the divide, the pro-establishment Democrat Party has announced that its members in the House of Representatives will give up their seats because they are unable to work with the ruling party.

The leader of the anti-government protesters, Suthep Thaugsuban, has called for a final demonstration on Monday in an attempt to force Ms Yingluck out.

Ms Yingluck said in a televised statement on Sunday that her government is searching for ways to end the conflict.

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

Mr Suthep has been calling for the establishment of a "People's Council" of appointed "good people" to replace the government.

But Ms Yingluck has dismissed the idea as unconstitutional and undemocratic. She has not spelt out the specifics for any referendum, but said it would be 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."

Tensions have run high in Thailand following several days of street clashes. Police have used tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets against rock-throwing demonstrators.

The unrest has left five people dead and more than 200 injured in Bangkok.

Demonstrators and police have observed a temporary truce since Wednesday for the 86th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is treated as a near-deity by many in Thailand.

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