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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Thai PM's exit leaves questions
Thaksin Shinawatra
Mr Thaksin has urged Thais to let "bygones be bygones"
Thaksin Shinawatra's decision to step aside as Thailand's prime minister has left both his party and his opponents with many unanswered questions.

Mr Thaksin has temporarily handed over to Deputy PM Chidchai Vanasatidya, but his party has yet to decide who can replace him to lead the new government.

There is also confusion over how and when this new government will convene.

The opposition Democrats have said they are willing to remain outside the parliamentary system to achieve reform.

Mr Thaksin won Sunday's snap election, which he called in response to opposition allegations of corruption and abuse of power - allegations he denied.

However, the poll was boycotted by the three main opposition parties and Mr Thaksin quit following an unexpectedly large protest vote.

By-elections

Democrats leader Abhisit Vejjajiva told the BBC his party wanted a transitional government, political reforms to strengthen Thailand's democratic system and then fresh elections.

"We want the country to return to true democracy, where there are rights, participation by the people, where there are checks and balances, no abuses of power," he said.

THAKSIN'S POLITICAL CRISIS
23 January: Thaksin family sells 49.6% stake in telecoms firm Shin Corp
4 February: 50,000 attend rally in Bangkok demanding Thaksin's resignation; similar rallies continue in the capital
24 February: Thaksin dissolves parliament and calls snap election
27 February: Three main opposition parties say they will boycott the poll
2 April: Thais vote for new government amid opposition boycott
3 April: Thaksin says his Thai Rak Thai party has won more than 50% of vote
4 April: Thaksin says he will step down

A BBC correspondent in Thailand says there is no indication of how any parliament might work without the main opposition party.

By-elections are to be held in 39 constituencies where uncontested candidates failed to get a threshold of 20% of the vote, but the Democrats say they will not contest these polls either.

Constitutionally, all 500 seats must be filled for parliament to convene.

On Monday, election officials said they would carry out the by-elections within 30 days.

In making his announcement to step aside, Mr Thaksin urged Thais to re-unite and "let bygones be bygones".

In the past few months, tens of thousands of people have been taking part in street demonstrations, accusing the prime minister of corruption and calling for his resignation.

Reactions to Mr Thaksin's offer to step aside have been mixed, according to BBC correspondents in Bangkok.

There has been relief and some scepticism from his opponents, and sadness among his supporters.

But while his announcement has eased tension, it also leaves Thailand in a state of confusion.

Mr Thaksin has handed over his responsibilities to Mr Chidchai, but it remains unclear when the party's next leader will be chosen and who it will be.

Another unanswered question is how a new government will be formed. In the wake of the opposition boycott, it is likely to be made up almost exclusively of MPs belonging to Mr Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party.


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See Thaksin Shinawatra at his final cabinet meeting



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