News / Asia

Thailand Braces for Protests Ahead of February Election

Thailand Braces for Protests Ahead of February Electioni
X
January 09, 2014 8:25 PM
The Thai government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is pressing ahead with nationwide elections on February 2, despite a boycott by the main opposition Democrat Party. Ron Corben reports from Bangkok, where street protests are expected to increase as demonstrators demand the polls be delayed.
Ron Corben
The Thai government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is pressing ahead with nationwide elections on February 2, despite a boycott by the main opposition Democrat Party. Street protests are expected to increase as demonstrators demand the polls be delayed.
 
Thailand’s ruling Pheu Thai Party hopes the February elections return them to office with an even bigger majority. The campaign slogan “Respect My Vote” is a rebuttal to the anti-government demonstrators who succeeded in blocking candidates from registering in 28 districts.

Nevertheless, the party is widely expected to regain its majority in parliament, partly because of populist policies that have benefited its backers, especially in northern rural areas.

In the capital however, tens of thousands of mainly urban middle class Thais are hoping to stop the polls by occupying key parts of the city.

Suranand Vejjajiva, secretary general to the prime minister, says holding the polls will ensure Thai democracy moves forward.

"If there's no election I think conflict and confrontation will intensify and it could lead to more violence which I don't think anyone in Thailand or even in the international community would like to see," he said.

The street protests began after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government backed an amnesty bill that could have allowed her older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, to avoid a jail term for corruption and return to Thailand.

Yingluck called for new elections, but protesters and the opposition Democrat Party, who cannot match the political strength of Pheu Thai, demanded the government be replaced by a non-elected reform council.
 
Protest leader and former lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban argues that step will make Thailand more transparent and democratic.

“Our main aim is to reform Thailand to make the election clean, without any corruption without any vote buying and we want to elect representatives that will truly represent the people,” he said.

The anti-government movement aims to “shut down” Bangkok from January 13 to pressure the government to resign.
 
Analysts and the Thai military are warning of growing violence.
 
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, fears the election will fail to solve Thailand's political crisis.

"The polls on February 2 are going to be part of the crisis more than part of the resolution because if they don't take place, the pro-election side will be unhappy," he said. "But if they do take place, there will be all kinds of mayhem from the other side and controversy from the anti-government side."

More than 50 parties are contesting the February second vote, led by Prime Minister Yingluck's Pheu Thai party. But with massive protests scheduled for the capital in the coming days it will prove a vital test for Thailand's democracy.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid