News / Asia

Thai Court Rules Snap Election Can Be Delayed

Members of the "White Shirt" movement hold a candlelight vigil to demand democratic elections and political reforms in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 24, 2014.
Members of the "White Shirt" movement hold a candlelight vigil to demand democratic elections and political reforms in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 24, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thailand's Constitutional Court says the Election Commission has the power to postpone the election scheduled for February 2 and has called for talks between the commission and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. But Yingluck's ruling party remains steadfast in pressing ahead with the vote despite ongoing street protests.

The commission had been seeking a court ruling on the extent of its powers to make decisions on the future of the poll, in light of protests in Bangkok that have left nine people dead and hundreds injured over the past three months.

The government this week declared a 60-day state of emergency covering Bangkok and nearby provinces, aimed at curbing the protests. The emergency declaration has raised concerns by human rights groups.  

Legal experts say under Thailand's 2007 constitution, the five-member Election Commission has the power to postpone the vote. The commission had been seeking government support to delay the polls. The constitutional court said the commission and prime minister should hold talks on any new polling date.

"It's a kind of a Thai way of approach," explained Dej-Udom Krairit, president of the Lawyers Council of Thailand; "even though you are empowered but at least you are going to discuss with the current administration on how to proceed. Even though the Election Committee [Commission] has the authority but they still need cooperation from the government agencies around the country."

The commission had been seeking talks with Yingluck, but instead the government arranged a meeting of political parties that endorsed the February 2 polling date. Anti-government protesters prevented candidate registration in 28 districts, and another 22 districts have only one candidate.

  • An anti-government protester wears a mask made of "No Vote" stickers as he marches with others through Bangkok, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greets the crowd as he leads anti-government protesters marching through Bangkok, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Police try to clear a main street for an anti-government protest march in Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters with national flags gather for a rally in Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters hold placards during a march through central Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester holds a national flag in front of a portrait of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, during a rally, Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters chain the gate of an office for the Land Transportation Department in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • Riot police stand guard inside the compound of the Thai Royal Police Club in Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • An anti-government protester plays a guitar near a barricade outside the compound of the Thai Royal Police Club in Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • A girl reacts at an anti-government rally in central Bangkok, Jan. 28, 2014.

The anti-government protests are calling for Yingluck's government to resign and the polling date delayed until political reforms are in place through a non-elected council. Protest leaders say the reforms are necessary to bring an end to rampant vote buying and corruption.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political scientist and former government spokesman under the Democrat Party, says postponing the February 2 poll would allow for negotiations.

"Of course the election should be postponed," he agreed. "Postponing the election with the intention to renegotiate a political solution so to avoid walking into a more complicated situation.  The court rules the Election Commission can share, can mandate to push for the decree you may have another way out led by election commission."

The governing Pheu Thai Party says it is pressing ahead with the February poll despite a boycott by the opposition Democrat Party. The ruling party says the election is a key step toward resolving current political tensions.

Pro-government red shirt supporters are vowing to stage rallies in provincial areas to support the February 2 poll. A university poll Friday found widespread support for the election.   

Supavud Saicheua, a senior economist at Phatra Securities, says the court decision has failed to clear political uncertainties.

"If the court allows the election commission to change the election date and I don't know when a government can be formed or even if the Pheu Thai government will be toppled and the Red Shirts come out,  then it's a whole different ball game and a great deal of uncertainty will prevail," Supavud said.

The crisis was triggered by a government blanket amnesty bill, later voted down, seen as favoring the return of Yingluck's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who is living in exile and facing jail for corruption. Other members of the Yingluck cabinet were also covered by the bill.

Protesters claim Thaksin exerts excessive influence over the government. But the governing party is also favored to return to power if the February 2 polls proceed.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid