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|Tuesday, November 07, 2000, updated at 22:30(GMT+8)|
Thai Cabinet Agrees to Dissolve Parliament November 9The Thai cabinet on Tuesday has agreed to dissolve the country's lower house November 9 and hold the next general election on January 6 next year, the state radio station reported.
The decision was made at a weekly cabinet meeting Tuesday, and Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai is seeking an audience with the King Bhumibol Adulyadej before announcing dates for the dissolution and the polls, said Wissanu Krua-ngam, secretary-general to the cabinet.
The election is believed to be a close race between Chuan's Democrat party and the upstart Thai Rak Thai party, led by tycoon- turned-politician Thaksin Shinawatra who is enjoying substantial lead in the polls.
The government is under heavy criticism for its failure to get the economy back on track after taking over the country in the depths of the worst economic crisis in decades in November 1997.
A recent survey found Thai Rak Thai is on target to claim 160 seats in the new 500-member parliament, compared with 118 for the Democrats,
Even with that level of support, Thai Rak Thai would need to form a coalition with other parties if it is to claim the power. Chuan's Democrats currently lead a six-party coalition government.
However, Thaksin's campaign for the premiership suffered a blow last week when the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) gave him an end-November deadline to explain his failure to declare holdings in 17 companies in his asset statements made during a 1997 stint as deputy premier.
If the NCCC finds he intended to conceal the stakes, he risks being barred from politics for five years.
Thaksin has said he is confident the NCCC will clear him of any wrongdoing.
Thailand's constitution requires a political office-holder to submit details of his assets and liabilities, as well as those assets he may have transferred to others, but over which he still exerts control.
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