Thai MPs resign en masse in political showdown
Thailand's political showdown appeared to be reaching a head, as opposition MPs resigned en masse from parliament and the prime minister offered a referendum on her rule.
The entire parliamentary party of the main opposition Democrat Party submitted their resignations, ahead of a planned march today on the Government House offices of Yingluck Shinawatra, the embattled prime minister.
Ms Yingluck countered the development by proposing the referendum to show where the country's sympathies stood.
She offered to resign as a means of resolving the crisis if she lost the vote.
"I am not clinging to this position," Ms Yingluck said in a television statement.
"I am willing to resign and dissolve parliament if that is what the majority of Thai people want."
The series of demonstrations and protests by anti-government protesters is entering its seventh week in Bangkok.
Key government ministry buildings in the capital have been occupied by protesters, who regard Ms Yingluck as the puppet of her brother and former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Many Thais, both loyalists and opposition, believe Mr Thaksin continues to rule the country from exile.
Five people have been killed in clashes between protesters and supporters of Pheu Thai, the party founded by Mr Thaksin.
Bangkok is braced for more violence today.
Suthep Thaugsuban, the protest leader and former Democrat MP, called on millions of people to march on Government House, in what he billed as the "final battle" to overthrow Ms Yingluck.
He wants to replace the government with an unelected "people's council".
Thailand's traditional elite and the metropolitan middle classes regard Mr Thaksin as corrupt and disloyal to the revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
However, he commands the support of the rural and urban poor, who have benefited from the rise of Pheu Thai, as a populist party of power. (©Daily Telegraph, London)