News / Asia

Thai Poll Date Uncertain as Protesters Disrupt Government Talks

Thai police investigate following an overnight shooting attack at Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, May 15, 2014.
Thai police investigate following an overnight shooting attack at Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, May 15, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thai authorities again delayed a final decision on the date of planned general elections when anti-government protesters disrupted a key meeting.  Earlier Thursday, a grenade and shooting attack killed at least three people at an anti-government protest site and the country’s army chief warned the military could step in if violence continues.  

Thailand’s military largely has stayed out of the country’s political deadlock, but on Thursday the army chief condemned the latest violence and warned the military will take action to maintain law and order if it continues.
 
But efforts to break the standoff through new elections suffered a setback when anti-government protesters besieged a Thai Air Force base where the government and the Thai Election Commission were in talks.
 
Acting Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan and other government officials were forced to flee the venue as protesters neared abruptly ending talks on whether to hold the next vote on July 20.
 
He was later replaced by the leader of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee, (PDRC) former lawmaker Suthep Thangsuban, who held talks with the Commissioners.
 
Chulalongkorn University political scientist Thitinan Pongsudhirak says the negotiations are unlikely to resolve the ongoing political conflict given the two sides’ sharp differences.
 
"Suthep and the PDRC want a so-called neutral appointed government and government and pro-government supporters do not want that. Suthep has been talking to the Election Commission and other state agencies," he said. "But these talks depend on having an appointed government which the other side opposes . So we're reaching a point, an intractable situation here, the parties are so far apart."
 
The governing Pheu Thai Party says it will press ahead with general elections after February polls were disrupted by the PDRC and boycotted by the opposition Democrat Party.  Protesters have vowed to again block the polls.
 
  • Police investigate the scene of an overnight shooting attack at Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, May 15, 2014.
  • Riot police stand guard outside an air force academy compound that anti-government protesters had entered earlier in Bangkok, May 15, 2014.
  • An Air Force member perspires behind his shield after anti-government protesters seeking to oust Thailand's government broke into an air force base in Bangkok, May 15, 2014.

     
  • Anti-government protesters prepare to start their day near Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, May 15, 2014.
  • Volunteers from anti-government protesters clean up after an overnight shooting attack at Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, May 15, 2014.
Pheu Thai party senior member Smarn Lertwongrath says the acting government has the power to call elections and will be patient until the Election Commission agrees to a new polling date.

"We have the power to draft the law by ourselves, but if they (the Commission) say they cannot do it then the agreement between the government and the Election Commission must by unanimous.  If it is not unanimous the election commission will have the excuse (and say) we cannot do that.  So we have to be patient and make it best to be unanimous," said Lertwongrath.
 
Smarn says the anti-government groups are unlikely to have the legal rights to call for a non-elected prime minister under the current constitution and any move would be resisted by the pro-government red shirt supporters.
 
Thailand's Law Reform Commission Wednesday recommended a series of proposals to end the conflict.
 
But independent legal analyst, Benjamin Zawacki, says the judiciary alone is not seen as impartial by government supporters.  Last week, the constitutional court dismissed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine cabinet members over charges of nepotism related to the reshuffling of a senior civil servant.
 
"When you have the primary arbiter - namely the judiciary as part of the conflict, not standing above the conflict as a disinterested third party but certainly perceived as a party to that conflict then where do you go next?  Right now in Thai society neither side sees the courts as that (impartial)," said Zawacki. "The Reds very clearly see the courts as being part and parcel of the conflict."
 
At least 28 people have been killed and hundreds wounded since the political conflict erupted late last year.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs