AP - BANGKOK, Thailand - Thailand's embattled prime minister dissolved parliament Friday — a move forcing national elections three years early and guaranteeing a showdown with his political opponents.
"I have decided to dissolve the parliament," Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters after meeting with the country's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej and winning the monarch's consent for elections. The ballot for a new National Assembly will be held on April 2, according to a royal decree released late Friday.
Thaksin has repeatedly rejected calls for his resignation, but said he would dissolve parliament if the political situation deteriorates.
Thaksin has also come under fire for mishandling of the country's most serious crisis, the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand where more than 1,100 have died over the past two years. He is also accused of stifling what was once one of Asia's freest media and of allowing his business and political cronies to reap enormous gains from corrupt policies.
More angry Muslims acting badly ... 1,1oo dead due to Muslim strife in Thailand!