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Thai crisis deepens as opposition quits Parliament

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 8, 2013 at 8:12 a.m.

BANGKOK — Thailand's main opposition party resigned from Parliament on Sunday to protest what it called "the illegitimacy" of an elected government with which it can no longer work. The move deepens the country's latest political crisis one day before new street demonstrations that many fear could turn violent.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut told The Associated Press his party could not participate in the legislature anymore because the body is "no longer accepted by the people."

The minority Democrats are closely aligned with anti-government protesters who have staged the country's biggest rallies in years. The demonstrations began last month and are aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose government came to power in a landslide vote in 2011 that observers said was free and fair.

The Democrats have not won an election since 1992, and some of their leaders appear to have given up on electoral politics because they cannot win. The protesters are demanding a non-elected people's council lead the country instead.

Thailand has been plagued by political turmoil since Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a former premier, was toppled in a 2006 military coup. In broad terms, the confrontation pits the Thai elite and the educated middle-class against Thaksin's power base in the countryside, which benefited from populist policies designed to win over the rural poor.

At least five people have been killed and at least 289 injured since the latest unrest began.

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