Thailand's main opposition Democrat Party has announced that it will boycott February's general election, deepening the country's weekslong political crisis.

The party's leader, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, announced the boycott after a meeting Saturday of party executives. He said the decision was made to try to ensure political reforms are implemented.

The party's position reflects the stand taken by street protesters demanding that caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra step down ahead of the elections. The protesters are demanding that an appointed interim government institute reforms before any new polls.

The Democrats, who are closely allied with the protest movement, also led an election boycott in 2006 that helped destabilize the government and paved the way for a military coup that ousted then- Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother.