Thai government proposes Feb. 2 elections

JOCELYN GECKER TODD PITMAN Associated Press Published:

BANGKOK (AP) -- Thailand's government said Monday it has proposed new elections be held Feb. 2, hours after the prime minister dissolved the lower house of parliament in a bid to calm the country's deepening political crisis.

Spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi told The Associated Press that the date was proposed during a Cabinet meeting in Bangkok.

Thailand's Election Commission must formally approve the date. Jinthong Intarasri, a spokeswoman for commission, said electoral officials will meet with the government in the next few days to discuss it.

The surprise moves came as more than 150,000 protesters vowing to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra'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 Yingluck's powerful family. The protesters are pushing for a non-elected "People's Council" to replace her democratically elected government.

Yingluck had said in a televised speech earlier 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 Yingluck's brother Thaksin in a 2006 coup. The protesters accuse Yingluck of serving as a proxy for her brother who lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid jail time for a corruption conviction he says was politically motivated.