BANGKOK, Feb 24 (Agencies): Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced Friday he has dissolved parliament, a move that will lead to new national elections within two months.
``We're dissolving the house,'' Thaksin told reporters at his party headquarters in Bangkok. Thailand's constitution says elections must be held within 60 days of a dissolution, which was approved by King Bhumibol Adulyadej late today.
Thaksin's move comes after months of calls for his resignation from critics who accuse him of corruption and abuse of power -- and just one year since Thaksin won a landslide victory in national elections.
Demonstrators say they will go ahead with a mass anti-Thaksin rally Sunday, said Suriyasai Katasila, a protest leader.
Thaksin's firm base among lower-income and rural supporters would be expected to return him to office.
The opposition, however, could boost the number of seats it holds in the 500-member lower house from the current 124 to the 200 needed to legally mount a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.
Thaksin has come under heavy fire over his family's 73.3 billion baht (US$1.9 billion; euro1.55 billion), tax-free sale last month of its controlling stake in telecommunications giant Shin Corp. to a Singaporean state-owned investment company.
Students, workers, teachers and members of the middle class are expected to attend Sunday's anti-Thaksin demonstration.
Among those leading the rally is Chamlong Srimuang, a former politician who helped spearhead protests in 1992 that helped oust a military-backed government.
Thaksin is the only Thai premier to have completed a four- year term since the kingdom changed to a constitutional monarchy in 1932.