In a televised address on Monday morning, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced that Thailand's House of Representatives had been dissolved. The move is a bid to ease the pressure of protests against her government, led by former deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban (pictured), who took to the streets on Monday in what he called the 'final battle' to unseat the government and 'eradicate the Thaksin Regime'.
The opposition Democrat party resigned en masse on Sunday, forcing Ms Yingluck to dissolve parliament and hold new elections within 60 days. 'The situation seems likely to escalate to violence so the government has decided to return power to the people and let them decide through elections', she said in the address.
The move did not deter protesters however, who marched toward Government House on Monday chanting 'get out forever'. The Yellow Shirt protesters are frustrated by their inability to contest an election due to what they call pervasive 'Thaksin influence' and 'vote buying'. Indeed, Ms Yingluck’s party and her Red Shirt supporters have won every election since 2001, and will likely win the upcoming election.
The tens of thousands of protesters who took to the street on Monday are far short of the ‘millions’ Mr Suthep anticipated. But their resolve is worrying all the same — these protests are reminiscent of the 2006 protests that led to a political stalemate and an eventual military coup. However, army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said over the weekend that the military would not intervene. 'I would like everyone to be patient and find a peaceful way out. A coup would only lead to further problems'.
But with much of the army loyal to the Yellow Shirt protesters, only time will tell if holding the army back remains tenable. Should Red Shirt supporters also descend on Bangkok, the already volatile situation would quickly escalate.