Thailand's Prime Minister Dissolves Parliament

Yingluck Shinawatra's move follows weeks of protests.

With an anti-Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra government placard, protesters march to the government house Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand.
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In an attempt to relieve political tension among her people, Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament Monday, calling for new elections to be held next year.

Yingluck's announcement came over a television broadcast.

"The government does not want any loss of life," she said. "At this stage, when there are many people opposed to the government from many groups, the best way is to give back the power to the Thai people and hold an election."

Yingluck's broadcast came after members of Thailand's Democratic Party - the primary opposition party in the country - announced they would resign from parliament because they could no longer work with the government, CNN reported.

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Elections for the parliament's lower house have been scheduled for Feb. 2 by King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. Yingluck will act as interim prime minister until the election.

However, Yingluck's gesture has done little to pacify the thousands of protesters who continue to clog the streets of Bangkok.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban claims he and his protesters are acting as the government by citing part of the constitution that states "the highest power is the sovereign power of the people."

"This means that from now on the people will appoint the prime minister of the people and appoint the government of the people," he told a crowd of more than 150,000 followers assembled outside government buildings, the Associated Press reported.

He said the new prime minister and a non-elected "people's council," which is not currently allowed by Thailand's constitution, would keep corrupt people like Yingluck and her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, out of power.

Yingluck won Thailand's 2011 election by a landslide. But allegations that she was under her brother's control surfaced after she tried to pass an amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin, who fled overseas in 2008 after he was charged with political corruption, to return.

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Though the bill was rejected by the Senate, it sparked the anti-government protests that began last month.

Monday's protests remained fairly peaceful, though that has not always been the case since the unrest began. Protesters at times have battled with police, resulting in the death of at least five individuals, the Associated Press reported.

"Police are unarmed, with only shields and batons," Interior Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan told the BBC. "We will not use tear gas, or if we have no choice, its use will be limited."

The U.S. supports a peaceful resolution to the unrest in one of Southeast Asia's biggest economies.

"We encourage all involved to resolve political differences peacefully and democratically in a way that reflects the will of the Thai people and strengthens the rule of law," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a press release.

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