News / Asia

    Thai Government: Sunday Election Will Take Place

    Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra leaves a meeting with election commissioners at the Army Club, in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 28, 2014.
    Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra leaves a meeting with election commissioners at the Army Club, in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 28, 2014.
    Daniel Schearf
    Thailand says it will carry out scheduled national elections Sunday, Feb. 2, despite ongoing political unrest and recent violence. Protesters have vowed to disrupt the vote, as part of their months long effort to oust the government, and the main opposition party is boycotting the polls.
     
    The Election Commission Tuesday reluctantly agreed to go forward with the elections, after a meeting with the caretaker government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

    The commission had pushed for postponing the polls after months of anti-government protests and violent clashes that left 10 dead and scores wounded.   

    Outside the meeting at Bangkok’s Army Club, hundreds of anti-government protesters demonstrated and threatened to push through lines of riot police and military guarding the compound. A nearby protester was shot and wounded.
     
    While the government remains committed to holding the vote Sunday, the election will not end Thailand's political crisis.

    Thai soldiers stand in front of anti-government protesters during a rally during the cabinet meeting at the Army Club, Jan. 28, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.Thai soldiers stand in front of anti-government protesters during a rally during the cabinet meeting at the Army Club, Jan. 28, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
    x
    Thai soldiers stand in front of anti-government protesters during a rally during the cabinet meeting at the Army Club, Jan. 28, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
    Thai soldiers stand in front of anti-government protesters during a rally during the cabinet meeting at the Army Club, Jan. 28, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
    Because protesters blocked candidate registration in some districts in December, some constituencies have no candidates, and protesters have vowed to shut down polls in Bangkok and southern provinces.

    Altogether, those measures are likely to prevent enough elected lawmakers from convening parliament and forming a government.

    Election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn says if the government goes ahead with the February 2 election, there could be delays with by-elections [to fill the empty seats] so it could be three to five months before the parliament would be able to convene.

    The prime minister’s ruling Pheu Thai party is widely expected to sweep the polls and her supporters have denounced any attempt to delay the vote.

    Protesters want to suspend elections and replace the government with a ruling council to usher in unspecified reforms.  Their only clear goal is to rid the government of any influence by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the caretaker prime minister's older brother who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

    Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban speaks to his supporters during a rally in central Bangkok, Jan. 28, 2014.Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban speaks to his supporters during a rally in central Bangkok, Jan. 28, 2014.
    x
    Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban speaks to his supporters during a rally in central Bangkok, Jan. 28, 2014.
    Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban speaks to his supporters during a rally in central Bangkok, Jan. 28, 2014.
    While most in Thailand support the vote, political analysts agree elections alone will not resolve the country’s deep political divisions. 

    “I doubt there’s serious talks going on behind the scenes to sort it out because I think the major players are committed to winning still, they are not really interested in compromise," said Chris Baker, an author and commentator on Thai politics. 

    The division broadly pits Thailand's working class farmers in the north and northeast, who support Thaksin, against middle and upper class royalists in Bangkok and the south who call him corrupt and power hungry.

    The protests started over attempts by the ruling party to pass an amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin to return to Thailand.  He lives in exile to avoid a jail sentence for abuse of power.

    The amnesty bill was scrapped but protests continued and Yingluck called the snap election in November to try to quell the unrest. Authorities also called a State of Emergency and issued arrest warrants for protest leaders, though neither were enforced.

    While the country prepares for elections, analyst Baker said Thailand's courts still could intervene.

    “They are seen as a way to break the deadlock; so the number of questions that are raised about what happens next legally, what then happens if this government get broomed by the courts, exactly what happens next we are in a kind of constitutional impasse - that could be quite interesting,” said Baker.

    Another legal threat to the ruling party gathered momentum Tuesday, when the National Anti-Corruption Commission launched an impeachment probe on Yingluck for her government's controversial rice-buying plan.

    Reporter Ron Corben contributed to this report.

    • 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.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Johnathan from: usa
    January 28, 2014 9:56 AM
    A never ending story of more jealousy and hate than corruption. Even the anti-government protester get their way and banned Ms. Prime Minister from the country like her brother. How long will the other parties last in power before the north have their protest for another corruption with the south to change of government against. It a never ending cycle which a country can't live as one and move on with their live. What a shame.
    In Response

    by: hugh cameron from: Chiang Mai
    February 01, 2014 3:03 AM
    Relax Ginger,

    No one in Thailand has ever been against corruption. They only say they are. As soon as one corrupt regime is overthrown another takes its place.

    However what is happening is that the overwhelming numbers of people live in the North and North East, they wish to have autonomy and self determination away from the relatively small number of Thais who governed them from Bangkok in the 20th century. These two allied groups have won all the elections in the 21st century to such an extent no one else will seriously challenge them at the polls

    The current leaders are only exploiting this for their own gain which is the way Thailand works.

    But in the long run the numbers and majorityism will prevail.
    In Response

    by: Ginger from: USA
    January 30, 2014 8:43 PM
    Relax. Revolution takes time. They are on the right path. They want a Reform before Election. They are cleaning their country and will come up with a set of agreements for all people ( Red, Yellow, White, or whoever). They are trying hard to rid vicious cycles of corrupt government. Should give them credit.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora