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Thai prime minister dissolves Parliament, calls elections

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 9, 2013 at 6:57 a.m.

BANGKOK — Desperate to defuse Thailand's deepening political crisis, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the lower house of Parliament on Monday and called for early elections. But the moves did nothing to stem a growing tide of more than 150,000 protesters vowing to overthrow her in one of the nation's largest demonstrations in years.

Analysts said the steps came too late and are unlikely to satisfy opponents who want to rid Thailand of her powerful family's influence. The protesters are pushing for a non-elected "people's council" to replace her democratically elected government.

In a speech late Monday, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban lashed out against Yingluck, calling her administration "corrupt" and "illegitimate" as crowds of supporters cheered.

The protest movement does "not consent to allowing the dictatorial majority ... to betray the people, to destroy the balance of democratic power," Suthep said. The people must use "their rights as citizens to take back their power," he said.

Thailand has been plagued by major bouts of upheaval since Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was toppled in a 2006 army coup that laid bare a deeper conflict between the elite and educated middle class against Thaksin's power base in the countryside, which benefited from populist policies designed to win over the rural poor.

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