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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid