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February 05, 2014

Thailand's Ruling Party Seeks Opposition Dissolution

by VOA News

Thailand's ruling Pheu Thai party is seeking to dissolve the opposition Democrat Party, meaning both sides of the country's tense political standoff are now trying to legally do away with one another.

A Pheu Thai spokesman said Wednesday he sent a complaint to the Election Commission, arguing the Democrats tried to overthrow the government by supporting protests that disrupted Sunday's election.

The motion comes a day after the Democrats argued for the ruling party's dissolution in a pair of petitions to the Constitutional Court, alleging that the early elections were an attempt to "grab power through unconstitutional means."

The moves suggest the country's months-long political deadlock could enter a new phase that would allow the courts to play a key role after the snap election proved inconclusive.

Though there were no clashes on election day, turnout was less than 50 percent. In many areas, anti-government protesters blocked or disrupted voting.

Election results are not expected for weeks, but Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will almost certainly be announced as the winner.

The government said it first will hold another round of polls for the approximately 10 percent of people who were not able to vote, though it is not clear when this will take place.

Opposition protesters vow to keep up pressure on Yingluck to resign, though demonstrations in Bangkok appear to be dwindling following the vote.

Protests and violence first 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.

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.

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Protesters have said 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.