Thai leader to consider stepping down

Thaksin Shinawatra has said he would consider temporarily stepping down as Thailand's prime minister, amid mounting protests in the capital to demand his resignation over corruption allegations.

    Thaksin Shinawatra is facing growing calls to resign

    Thaksin did not elaborate on when, and for how long he might step down.

    He made his comments on Tuesday in northeastern Thailand while campaigning for snap elections he has called for 2 April in hopes of refreshing his mandate and deflating the country's growing anti-government movement.

    When asked by a reporter whether he would be taking a break from the prime minister's position, he said: "It is a good proposal and I am considering this.

    "This does not mean that I would bow to mob rule. I have to take some time to consider and decide what to do, because I have a duty to complete my mission," he told reporters during a campaign tour in the province of Buriram.

    The prime minister has solid support from the countryside, despite the growing protests led by the urban elite in Bangkok.

    Critics accuse the tycoon-turned-politician of corruption, mishandling a Muslim insurgency in the south, stifling the media and allowing cronies to gain from state policies.

    Demonstrators rally in Bangkok
    on Tuesday

    Tens of thousands of protesters gathered on Tuesday near Thaksin's office in Bangkok and camped out overnight, insisting to stay until he resigns, in the latest of several mass demonstrations in recent weeks.

    The demonstrators suspended their vigil early on Wednesday with plans to reconvene in the evening.

    Many critics have suggested that Thaksin appoint a temporary replacement to oversee proposed reforms to the constitution, which would defuse protests and allow him to return to politics later.

    "I will base my decision on what is good for the nation and not make a decision based on pressure from various groups," he told reporters in Buriram. "I am not a man who clings to power, but since I still have a duty to accomplish, I will have to be very careful and consider all aspects."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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