Thailand's government said today that a general election will be held on February 2.
The announcement came hours after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the lower house of parliament in a bid to calm the country's deepening political crisis.
Government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi told the Associated Press that the date was set during a Cabinet meeting in Bangkok.
The surprise moves came as more than 150,000 protesters vowing to overthrow Ms Yingluck's government marched peacefully through the capital's streets for a "final showdown".
Analysts said the elections are unlikely to satisfy opponents who want to rid Thailand of the influence of Ms Yingluck's powerful family. The protesters are pushing for a non-elected People's Council to replace her democratically- elected government.
Ms Yingluck had said earlier in a televised speech that she would remain in a caretaker capacity until a new prime minister is elected.
Thailand has been plagued by political turmoil since the army toppled Ms Yingluck's brother, Thaksin, in a 2006 coup.
The protesters accuse Ms Yingluck of serving as a proxy for her brother who lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid a prison sentence for a corruption conviction he says was politically motivated.