Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced today he has dissolved parliament, a move that will lead to new national elections within two months.
“I have decided to dissolve the parliament,” Thaksin told reporters after meeting with the monarch.
Under Thailand’s constitutional monarchy, the king must endorse the parliament dissolution, and an official endorsement was expected from the palace later today.
Elections must be held within 60 days of parliament’s dissolution.
Thaksin’s move comes after months of calls for his resignation from critics who accuse him of corruption and abuse of power – and just one year since Thaksin won a landslide victory in national elections.
Demonstrators say they will go ahead with a mass anti-Thaksin rally on Sunday, said Suriyasai Katasila, a protest leader.
Thaksin’s firm base among lower-income and rural supporters would be expected to return him to office.
The opposition, however, could boost the number of seats it holds in the 500-member lower house from the current 124 to the 200 needed to legally mount a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.
Thaksin has come under heavy fire over his family’s 73.3 billion baht (€1.46bn), tax-free sale last month of its controlling stake in telecommunications giant Shin Corp. to a Singaporean state-owned investment company.
Students, workers, teachers and members of the middle class are expected to attend Sunday’s anti-Thaksin demonstration.
Among those leading the rally is Chamlong Srimuang, a former politician who helped spearhead protests in 1992 that helped oust a military-backed government.