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    Thai Prime Minister Could Dissolve Parliament by Early May

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    NTDTelevision

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    Thailand's prime minister says parliament will be dissolved by the first week of May. This would pave the way for a general election that would have to be held by early July.

    Thailand's prime minister says parliament would be dissolved by the first week of May, paving the way for a general election to be held by early July.

    The poll will be Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's first test of popular support after his coalition government came to power in late 2008 in a parliamentary vote which intensified the country's political crisis.

    Abhisit has to put the proposed dissolution date to the King for endorsement, a formality required before he makes the election date official and public.

    [Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai Prime Minister]:
    "I've decided this to confirm my decision to hold elections before parliament's term expires. We should select the best time to stop ambiguity and confusion. I insist that next week we consider a law to quicken every process. And no later than the first week of May, we will forward the request to the King, to issue an election act."

    Although his term expires at the end of the year, the British-born, Oxford-educated premier had said he would call an early election if the economy was sound and the country calm.

    [Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai Prime Minister]:
    "I think elections are an important process. Now we have economic problems, and we need to be clear. The voice of the people can indicate the country's future."

    The stakes in the coming election are higher than at any time since a 2006 coup removed former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and engulfed Thailand in a five-year crisis.

    The election may be an opportunity to heal political divisions, but it could also push Thailand back to the brink of chaos after violent anti-government protests last year in which 91 people died.