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February 03, 2014

Anti-Government Protesters Dismiss Thailand Elections

Anti-government protesters have dismissed Sunday's snap elections in Thailand and vow to continue mass street protests to topple the caretaker government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The main opposition Democrat Party boycotted the elections, and protesters obstructed voting by blocking the distribution of ballots and preventing voters from entering polling stations in several constituencies. The caretaker government has said it will hold a second round of polls for people who were not able to vote Sunday.

Protesters said Monday they will fight to annul the election on several levels, including a legal requirement that an election takes place in one day.

In the meantime, protesters are dismantling some of their camps to consolidate their numbers at other sites.

Results from the vote are not expected for weeks, with the winning party unable to form a new government until polls are held in the disrupted districts.

Protests and violence erupted three months ago, when the prime minister sought to grant amnesty to her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.



Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite are opposed to the amnesty and have responded to its proposal with calls to oust the government.

Mr. Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, remains very influential in Thailand, even though he was convicted of corruption. He lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai.

Protesters say the vote should not have been held before widespread reforms took place, while Prime Minister Yingluck insisted the election was the only legitimate way to end the political stalemate.

The election commission had called for the vote to be delayed, citing fears of violence that has killed at least 10 people since November.

The Thai army increased its presence in the capital to prevent further unrest during the elections and a state of emergency has already been declared.

The military, which has staged 18 coups in the past 81 years, has said it will not interfere in the political situation unless absolutely necessary.