Thailand's Prime Minister announces resignation

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Thailand's prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, announced his resignation in a national telecast on Tuesday, April 4, 2006. His statement included an apology to his supporters and a hope that his resignation will help heal divisions in the country — "Our house is broken and it needs to be put back together." He will not continue as prime minister when Parliament reconvenes; however, he will continue as a member of Parliament and as Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party leader. The process to select his successor will begin in the first new session of Parliament.

Only the previous day, Monday, Thaksin had expressed his intention to continue as Prime Minister, following his party's election win. The reversal came after an audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej (pronunciation) (sometimes written Adulyadej Bhumibol). The King intervenes in Thai politics only on rare occasions. June, 2006 will mark 60 years as king for Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-serving head of state. "Now everyone has made their voices heard," said Thaksin. "There are 60 days left; there is no more time to argue. People coming from all over the world will wonder about all these rallies."

Although Thaksin's TRT party won the April 2nd election, the results were disappointing, with over one-third of voters choosing 'none of the above'. After the election there had been continuing calls for his resignation.

Thaksin's standdown will likely end months of calls for the dissolution of his government which has been charged by protesters of corruption and misuse of authority. In October 2005, he sued Sondhi Limthingkul's newspaper, the Phujatkarn Daily, over corruption allegations. Sondi's move to open-air shows where he detailed further corruption allegations grew into the PAD (People's Alliance for Democracy) and following the Shin Corp sale, PAD protests forced Thaksin to call a snap election.