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

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid