P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has announced his decision to step down to defuse the spiralling crisis over his continuance in office.

Mr. Thaksin's political U-turn followed a meeting with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, highly revered constitutional monarch.

Mr. Thaksin told the press in Bangkok that his decision was taken out of respect for the King, who would soon celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of his ascension to the throne.

The Prime Minister, who would remain in a caretaker capacity till a successor is chosen, said his decision was also dictated by a desire to reunite the nation that got deeply polarised in recent months over his position.

Mr. Thaksin indicated he would stay on at the helm of the governing Thai Rak Thai Party. He called the snap poll to ride out a crisis over his alleged deeds of corruption and abuse of authority for his family's pecuniary gains over a mega business deal with a foreign firm.