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Thai Oppn rejects PM's compromise offers

Thailand's opposition parties have rejected PM Thaksin Shinawatra's compromise offers, and pressed forward with a boycott of the snap elections.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 11:11 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Thailand's opposition parties have rejected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's compromise offers, and pressed forward on Saturday with a boycott of the snap elections that the embattled Thai leader has called for, to defuse a political crisis.

Accusing the tycoon-turned-politician of corruption and abuse of power, pro-democracy groups have prepared for a mass rally on Sunday, aimed at pressurising Thaksin to resign. They have vowed to go in for militant action if he doesn't step down.

Thaksin had extended an olive branch on Friday night, at a campaign rally of his Thai Rak Thai party ahead of April 2 national elections.

Speaking to a cheering crowd of what appeared to be well over 100,000 supporters, he offered to resign if his party fails to secure more than half the votes in the poll.

If he is re-elected, he said, he will hold a national referendum on constitutional reforms within 15 months and then call for fresh elections.

"I play by rules someone else wrote, so come join the election with me," he said, maintaining that he was following democratic procedures.

But the leading opposition parties reaffirmed that they would not take part.

"Thaksin dissolved the House (of Representatives) and called snap elections to launder himself of several wrongdoings," Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said. "Thaksin's proposal for political reform is mere lip service. We cannot trust him any more."

The deputy leader of the opposition Chart Thai party, Somaak Prisana-anantakul, said he didn't believe an election would take place April 2 or that Thaksin would make good on his promise of political reform.

The party leaders said they would launch a campaign to explain why a boycott was needed and stress the "dangers of the Thaksin system."

Tens of thousands of protesters have been demanding Thaksin's resignation in regular weekend rallies, accusing him of corruption, mishandling a Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand, stifling the media, and allowing cronies to reap gains from state policies.

Thaksin's offers on Friday were the closest he came, to meeting the demands of his foes.

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 11:11 IST