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Thai PM unveils reform plan to stem protests

Afp, Bangkok

Thailand's prime minister proposed a "national reform council" yesterday to seek a way out of the political crisis gripping the kingdom, following weeks of mass street protests against her government.
Yingluck Shinawatra said the body would be set up in parallel with a February 2 general election to recommend constitutional amendments, economic and legal reforms and anti-corruption measures.
"It is now time to develop a mechanism to push forward and mobilise national reform," she said in an address to the nation.
But the plan was immediately rejected by protest leaders who want reforms before elections, in a bid to curb the political influence of the prime minister's family.
The premier has called a snap election for February 2 to try to ease tensions, but the main opposition Democrat Party -- which has not won an elected majority in about two decades -- has vowed to boycott the vote.
Election authorities have expressed confidence that candidates will be able to register in time. But the demonstrators have vowed to keep up their campaign to disrupt the polls, with protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban threatening to "shut down the country" to prevent people voting.
Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2001.The recent protests have left five people dead and more than 200 wounded in street violence, although tensions have abated recently.
Yingluck's cabinet yesterday extended a special security law for two more months to cope with the protests.
The law, known as the Internal Security Act, gives the police additional powers to block routes, ban gatherings, carry out searches and impose a curfew, although not all the measures have been used.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, December 26, 2013

Last modified: 10:05 pm Thursday, December 26, 2013

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