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Thailand PM kicks off election campaign

Supporters of PM Thaksin Shinawatra converged in the capital to kick off the leader's re-election campaign, as opponents continued to call for his resignation.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 12:55 IST

Supporters of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra converged in the capital Friday to kick off the leader's re-election campaign, as opponents continued to call for his resignation.

Thaksin is scheduled to address a mass rally later on Friday where would announce his political platform and defend himself against charges by opponents, which include corruption and abuse of power.

It is, however, certain that he will not announce his resignation on the occasion.

On Thursday, Thaksin and members of his Thai Rak Thai party registered for the elections on April 2, which he has called for in the hope of renewing his mandate and defusing growing street protests calling for his ouster.

The elections are being boycotted by the three leading opposition parties, making it basically a one-party contest.

Even before the boycott, Thaksin's ruling party was expected to win the election because of its massive financial resources and solid support among rural voters.

The opposition parties, Democrat, Chart Thai and Mahachon, have said they will boycott because Thaksin refuses to consider their plans for constitutional reform.

One of the proposals calls for the prime minister to step down from office until the elections are held.

Amid mounting calls for his resignation, Thaksin dissolved the Parliament last week and called for new national elections three years earlier than scheduled. "Let the people make their own decision," he said.

Thaksin has also called on the Opposition not to snub the democratic process and to participate in the elections, noting that some countries lack any democracy and political dissidents are arrested.

Meanwhile, ex-prime minister and former Democrat Party leader Chuan Leekpai argued that to boycott the election was their right under a democratic process.

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

The anti-Thaksin campaign swelled last month after the prime minister's family sold its controlling stake in telecommunications giant Shin Corp. to a Singapore state-owned investment company, netting a tax-free 73.3 billion Baht.

First Published: Mar 03, 2006 12:25 IST