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September 26, 2017

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Thai opposition urges PM to resign, refuses to back poll

BANGKOK -- Thailand's opposition leader Saturday refused to commit to elections mooted for July to end an ulcerous political crisis, instead calling for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign before new polls later in the year.

The kingdom has been without a fully functioning government since December, severely hampering policy making and draining the energy of the nation's once-dynamic economy.

Thailand has been bedeviled by an eight-year power struggle between a royalist establishment — supported by parts of the judiciary and the military — and the billionaire Shinawatra family, which has traditionally enjoyed strong support in poor, rural, northern portion of the country.

At least 25 people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded in political violence during six months of protests to oust Yingluck and diminish the influence of her brother Thaksin on Thai politics.

Launching his proposal, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva urged Yingluck and her cabinet to resign to make way for an appointed interim administration which would oversee a debate on reforms.

It would then hold a referendum on the reform proposals with elections six months later, he told reporters, without directly saying whether or not his party would participate in the July poll.

"Yingluck should make the sacrifice of withdrawing from power," he said.

"No side can gain 100 percent from my plan... but every side will have their demands addressed."

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