Bangkok - Thailand's main opposition Democrat Party on Saturday announced it would boycott snap elections in the crisis-gripped kingdom, as protesters prepare to ramp up rallies aimed at toppling the government.
Party members - who resigned as MPs en masse to join the demonstrations that have rocked Bangkok for weeks - voted against participating, according to Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.
“The meeting of party executives and former party lawmakers resolved that the Democrat Party will not send candidates to contest in the February 2, 2014 general election,” he said in a press conference following the meeting.
Embattled premier Yingluck Shinawatra, who called the elections in an effort to cool tensions, has insisted the polls will go ahead regardless of the Democrat decision.
But the move throws Democrat backing firmly behind protesters who are calling for democracy to be suspended for an unelected “people's council” to be installed to enact reforms before a future vote.
Demonstrators want to rid the country of Yingluck and the influence of her Dubai-based brother Thaksin Ä an ousted billionaire ex-premier who is despised by a coalition of the southern Thai poor, Bangkok middle classes and elite.
Politically-turbulent Thailand has seen several bouts of political turmoil since Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006, with rival protests sometimes resulting in bloody unrest.
“The Democrats think the elections will not solve the country's problems, lead to reform, or regain people's faith in political parties,” Abhisit said.