Opposition MPs quit in Thailand

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NEW DELHI -- After several days of relative calm in Thailand, the main opposition party raised the stakes Sunday by resigning en masse from Parliament in protest over a government that they claim is illegitimate.

By aligning with street protesters, the opposition Democrat Party is threatening to deepen the country's political standoff. The Democrats, who have not won an election since 1992, are betting that their political fortunes will be advanced by aligning with anti-government street demonstrators in the capital, Bangkok.

"The solution to our current problems needs to start with the showing of responsibility," Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Democrat leader and former premier, said in announcing the immediate resignations. "The prime minister has never showed any responsibility or conscience."

The political crisis was sparked last month when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government tried to pass a law that would have granted amnesty to her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr. Thaksin, a telecommunications tycoon, was convicted of corruption in 2008 and has been in self-imposed exile since.

The bill failed to pass the Senate. But the initiative upset a fragile social peace between Thaksin supporters and opponents. Protests since then have resulted in at least five deaths and 289 injuries in and around official buildings as anti-government demonstrators have sought to bring Ms. Yingluck's administration to a halt. The protesters say Ms. Yingluck, 46, is a puppet for her brother, whom they accuse of buying her 2011 election.

Ms. Yingluck's Pheu Thai party won decisively at the polls. Street protests reflect frustration among her party's opponents, analysts say, because they have made little traction with a majority of Thai voters. Protesters have demanded that a nonelected "people's council" replace Parliament.

"We decided to quit as [members of parliament] to march with the people against the Thaksin regime," Democrat Party parliamentarian Sirichok Sopha said Sunday in televised remarks.

The protests are led by Suthep Thauksuban, a former deputy prime minister who has rejected negotiations with Ms. Yingluck's government. He's also called for a final push to overthrow the government today.


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