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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid