News / Asia

Fresh Thai Election No Closer Despite Multi-Party Meeting

Thai anti-government protesters rally in Bangkok, March 29, 2014.
Thai anti-government protesters rally in Bangkok, March 29, 2014.
Reuters
— Thailand's political impasse looked no closer to a solution on Tuesday despite a rare meeting of political parties and the Election Commission to discuss how and when a new vote should be held after a general election in February was declared void.

About 58 parties including the ruling Puea Thai Party met in Bangkok to discuss a rerun, after months of anti-government protests that have crippled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's caretaker government and the economy.

However, the main opposition Democrat Party did not attend, citing unspecified security concerns, and the parties did not settle on a date for a new election.

The failure of the talks highlights the political division between the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and the largely middle- and upper-class backers of the royalist establishment.

The confrontation has brought occasional outbreaks of violence and undermined growth in Southeast Asia's second biggest economy. Elections, won by former telecoms tycoon Thaksin or his loyalists since 2001, have failed to bring reconciliation.

The Constitutional Court nullified the Feb. 2 election, which Yingluck looked set to win, because voting was not held in 28 constituencies where anti-government protesters stopped candidates registering. The constitution says voting must take place around the country on the same day.

The Election Commission said on Tuesday a new vote could be held on July 20 at the earliest.

“Otherwise it would be too tight and we would not have time to resolve any unexpected issues,” said Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, an election commissioner.

Yingluck's caretaker government has a narrow remit, with limited fiscal authority, and the failure to agree on when to hold a vote will add to her mounting problems, which include a set of legal challenges that could bring her down within weeks.

“I want elections at the earliest date possible," Yingluck told reporters on Tuesday. "We have no lawmakers and therefore have nobody to solve the country's problems,” 

The Democrats boycotted the February vote and have remained noncommittal over whether they will take part in the next one.

Bargaining tool

Thailand has been in crisis since 2006 when the military ousted then premier Thaksin in a coup.

On one side are Bangkok's middle-class, the bureaucratic establishment and residents of the south, a Democrat stronghold, who see Thaksin as a corrupt crony capitalist and threat to their interests and say he wins elections with handouts.

On the other side are the supporters of Yingluck and Thaksin, largely from the north and northeast, who say Thaksin, who lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail term handed down in 2008 for abuse of power, was the first leader to help them.

The pro-establishment protesters, based in a Bangkok park, are demanding political reforms to end what they see as Thaksin's grip over a fragile democracy, before a new vote.

Twenty-five people have been killed and scores wounded since the protests began in November. Puea Thai accuses the protesters of trying to seize power through underhand means, abetted by the Democrats.

“Some political parties have joined hands to block the election process in order to create a power vacuum and put themselves in charge,” Yingluck's party said in a statement on Monday.

Critics say the Democrats are refusing to take part because they know they will again lose to Thaksin's political machine unless the electoral system is changed.

“The Democrats are using this as a bargaining tool to increase their chance of returning to power,” said Gothom Arya, a lecturer in human rights and peace studies at Mahidol University in Bangkok.

“They are afraid that if Puea Thai Party wins another election, they will remain the opposition for a long time.”

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid