News / Asia

    Thai February Polls to Go Ahead Despite Protests

    A motorcyclist rides past an election campaign poster of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, featuring a portrait of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in central Bangkok on January 3, 2014.
    A motorcyclist rides past an election campaign poster of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, featuring a portrait of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in central Bangkok on January 3, 2014.
    Ron Corben
    Thailand's election commission says it will go ahead with nationwide elections on February 2, despite worries over security as anti-government protestors vow to shut-down Bangkok starting January 13.
     
    The commission held talks with key political parties, including the governing Pheu Thai Party and opposition Democrat Party, which is boycotting the vote, before it made its announcement.
     
    While anti-government protesters succeeded in largely blocking candidates registering in southern provinces, a stronghold of the opposition Democrat Party, elsewhere a total of 642 candidates applied to contest the poll.
     
    The election commission says the 123 candidates who were unable to register because they were blocked by protesters must petition the Supreme Court to be included on the ballots.
     
    Prasaeng Mongkonsiri, an advisor to the Democratic Force Party, one of 50 parties on the ballot, thinks the election commission is right to go ahead. Following the tumultuous political events of the past months, Prasaeng said the governing Pheu Thai may be forced into a coalition government. 
     
    "The best way is continuing the election," Mongkonsiri said. "We should go through the election and don't worry about the result of the election. Probably Pheu Thai Party might not be the first runner. It's possible medium [sized] party might be the first runner of this election."

    Anti-government protester looks at pictures taken during clashes with police during a rally in Bangkok on Dec. 29, 2013.Anti-government protester looks at pictures taken during clashes with police during a rally in Bangkok on Dec. 29, 2013.
    x
    Anti-government protester looks at pictures taken during clashes with police during a rally in Bangkok on Dec. 29, 2013.
    Anti-government protester looks at pictures taken during clashes with police during a rally in Bangkok on Dec. 29, 2013.
    Anti-government protesters have been demanding that the vote be delayed, that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra step aside, and that a new non-elected council be appointed to make political reforms. Yingluck has refused to step down, but has said a reform council could be set up following the February vote.
     
    The anti-government protest movement led by a former lawmaker, Suthep Thangsuban, said it plans to shutdown key areas of the capital, Bangkok from January 13 in its bid to force the government to resign.
     
    But pro-government supporters, led by the United Democratic Front Against Dictatorship, also known as Red Shirts, say they will go ahead with counter demonstrations, leading to fears of clashes.
     
    Friday, the head of the Thailand's National Security Council said Thai Armed forces are willing to step in to assist Thai police to ensure peace and order in Bangkok.  
     
    Titipol Phakdeewanich, a political scientist at the University of Ubon Ratchathani, in the north east, said there is support for the election, including from some supporters of the Democrat Party led by Abhisit Vejajjiva, who wish to protect their voting rights.
     
    "It's quite surprising to hear that those who are supporting [Democrat Party leader] Abhisit also want to go to the polls on the second [of February]," he said.  "But the reason that they want to go is because they want to protect their rights - so they will vote 'no.'"
     
    Thailand’s political unrest began late last year when the government proposed a far-reaching amnesty bill that could have paved the way for the return of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The bill failed to pass, but sparked a wave of protests in Bangkok that caused the prime minister to dissolve the government and call for early elections.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.