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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid