News / Asia

Thai Elections End, Expose Bitter Divide

A local resident casts his ballot for the general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.
A local resident casts his ballot for the general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.
Daniel Schearf
Polls have closed in Thailand's tense national elections in which anti-government protesters forced the closure of hundreds of polling stations in the capital, Bangkok.

Voters have braved intimidation and threats of violence to participate in nationwide elections. Protesters forced elections to be canceled in nine of Thailand's 76 provinces and four of Bangkok's 50 districts, but most polling stations were able to open.  

Angry voters pound on the gates of one Bangkok district office demanding they be allowed to vote.

Anti-government protesters here earlier blocked officials from delivering ballots to nearby polling stations.

Political Developments in Thailand

2006: Army overthrows Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
2007: The pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins elections
2008: Anti-Thaksin protesters, known as "Yellow Shirts", stage months of demonstrations and briefly paralyze airports. Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes prime minister.
2010: Massive pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" protests are held in Bangkok, dozens are killed
2011: Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin, elected prime minister
2013: Anti-government protesters hold massive demonstrations, Ms. Yingluck calls new elections
2014: Protesters camp in Bangkok to shut down the city
Voter Thippawan Sae-lao blamed election organizers for failing to protect her democratic right.

She says she feels disappointed because she could not cast her vote. They should have been well prepared, she says, because they already knew people would come out to vote.

Well-known independent politician Chuwit Kamolvisit was assaulted when he arrived at the empty polling station in his own neighborhood.

A few protesters splashed water at Chuwit, knocked him down, and pulled his shirt, but were quickly subdued by his security.

Chuwit, a massage parlor king turned anti-corruption advocate, says both the ruling party and opposition are to blame for Thailand's deep divisions.

“They have a conflict now. And, next year it's going to be a new conflict," said Chuwit. "Until they learn that the conflict have to be solved with the compromise, that is a politic. Politic(s) is a compromise, man. If not compromise, war.”

But protesters failed to stop the election itself and throughout most of Bangkok, and the rest of Thailand, ballots were delivered and voting took place with few incidents.

Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.
x
Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.
Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.
At polling stations, police and soldiers were dispatched to maintain order, though neither used force.

After polls closed Sunday, Thailand's Election Commission on national television said 89% of the country's 93,000 polling stations were able to open.

Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen repeated the commission's opposition to holding the election during the current unrest but also thanked voters for participating.

He says they are studying the laws and regulations to set February 23rd as a new election date for eligible voters who could not cast their ballots during early voting on January 26th.

Protesters that day blocked voting at nearly all of Bangkok's districts in scenes that led many to question their commitment to democracy.

Despite their failure to stop the election, protesters, who want an un-elected council to take over to usher in unspecified reforms, were in a celebratory and defiant mood.

Protesters danced to live music at Bangkok's Victory Monument, one of several protest sites in the city.

Paengporn Kunork says they want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her family, who they say are corrupt, out of Thai politics.

She says they are celebrating as if they won because they are gradually winning, step by step. But their ultimate goal, she says, is to force the prime minister to reform and then they can start to reform the country.

After Sunday’s vote, attention turns to legal challenges to the ruling party in the courts in the coming weeks, and by-elections in the coming months.

Despite months of turmoil, Thailand’s political standoff shows no signs of nearing an end.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs