Thailand: Yingluck Shinawatra offers referendum, opposition party resigns in protest


Former Thai Prime Minister and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva addresses a news conference at the Democrat Party headquarters in Bangkok on December 8, 2013.



Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Sunday that she was ready to resign if that's what the majority of Thais want.

Shinawatra proposed a referendum to decide the fate of her two-and-a-half-year old administration after a month of protests that have rocked the southeast Asian nation.

Her televised address on Sunday coincided with a deepening of Thailand's crisis after the main opposition party quit parliament in an attempt to destabilize the current government.

The Democrat Party announced that all its 153 lower house MPs were resigning in protest of what they consider Yingluck's “illegitimate” rule.

“The solution to our current problems needs to start with the showing of responsibility,” said Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

“The prime minister has never shown any responsibility or conscience.”

Demonstrations against the current government erupted about a month ago after a controversial amnesty bill was proposed by the prime minister.

The bill would have paved the way for the return of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in prime minister in a coup in 2006.

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The billionaire populist leader fled the country and has lived in exile since.

Anti-government "yellow-shirts" came out en masse to demonstrate against the bill, which morphed into a wider demonstration against Yingluck's rule.

The Wall Street Journal wrote that the protests are just the latest episode in a "decade-long drama pitting the wealthy, populist Shinawatra political machine against Thailand's traditional ruling hierarchies in the civil service and armed forces."

Though the protests abated late last week to mark King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 86th birthday, protesters amassed again on the streets on Sunday.

Protest leader and former Democrat deputy prime minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, has rejected Yingluck's offer to resign. Instead, he wants her replaced by an unelected “people’s council”.

Protesters see Yingluck as a "clone" of her brother, who they see as ruling from exile in Dubai.