An anti—government demonstration that has occupied Bangkok’s chief commercial district for the past month will depart once Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announces a fixed date for dissolving parliament, protest leaders said on Wednesday.
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as the red shirts, has seized Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong Road since April 3, demanding that Mr. Abhisit dissolve parliament and hold elections.
On Monday, Mr. Abhisit announced that elections would be held on November 14. He laid out a five—point proposal for reconciliation for Thailand, which has experienced four years of political upheaval with lengthy street protests, a military coup and a deepening divide in society.
Mr. Abhisit said he hoped the proposal would be accepted by Coronation Day on Wednesday, when the country marks King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s official coronation 60 years ago, although he ascended to the throne in 1946. King Bhumibol, 82, has been in hospital since September.
The UDD accepted Mr. Abhisit’s proposal in principle on Tuesday, but refused to send its thousands of followers home.
“We are awaiting the announcement of dissolution,” UDD chairman Veera Muksikapong said. He said the protestors would go home after the announcement.
The prime minister’s proposal has raised hopes of a peaceful solution to the political crisis, which has claimed 27 lives and left more than 900 injured in Bangkok street clashes.
Under Thai law, Mr. Abhisit must dissolve parliament 45 to 60 days before an election, meaning he must do it by October 1 or mid—September, if the polls are on November 14. His term was slated to end in December 2011.
The first step of Mr. Abhisit’s proposal was a commitment by all sides to uphold the monarchy, and prevent it from being drawn into politics.
The protest, the first popular uprising against the establishment since the communist threat of the 1960s and 70s, highlighted issues of class struggle, income disparity, injustice and the role of the centuries—old monarchy.
The UDD has been drawing between 5,000 to 10,000 supporters daily to its main protest site, a posh commercial district.
The demonstrators have barricaded themselves behind rubber tyres, barbed wire and sharpened bamboo stakes, and a military crackdown would lead to heavy casualties, observers said.
Keywords: Political instability,