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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid