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Thai parties fail to agree on new elections

Posted by Nuttapon_S On April - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Talks on a roadmap to elections end with no breakthrough after the opposition pullout.

Thailand’s political impasse has been met with continued obstacles after talks called by the country’s Election Commission (EC) to draw a roadmap towards elections ended with no breakthrough after the opposition withdrew at the last minute.

Tuesday’s meetings between Prime Minister Yingluck’s party and rival groups ended with no solution after the opposition party pulled out, leaving the kingdom to continue without a fully functioning government or parliament since December

The EC called for talks to discuss a new election date with political rivals including the main opposition Democrat Party, which boycotted the last round of voting.

I will not attend the meeting because of security… No one from the Democrats will attend.

– Abhisit Vejjajiva, Democrat Party leader

“I will not attend the meeting because of security,” Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva told AFP without specifying the nature of the concerns.

Representatives from more than 50 other political parties joined the talks, according to election officials.

During talks election officials proposed three possible voting dates: July 20, August 17 or September 14 but have been accused of wanting to stall elections. The EC, which has in the past been accused of siding with the opposition, says it needs several months to organise new polls, leaving the country in legislative limbo.

Power grab

The talks come as PM Yingluck, who won by a landslide election victory in 2011, could be ordered to step down within weeks after accusations of corruption.

Thailand’s first female premier is accused of the alleged improper transfer of a top civil servant as well as dereliction of duty linked to a loss-making rice subsidy scheme.

Her supporters see the moves as an attempted power grab.

The backdrop is an eight-year struggle between a royalist establishment – backed by parts of the judiciary and the military – and Yingluck’s family, which has traditionally recieved strong support in the northern half of Thailand.

Yingluck’s “Red Shirt” supporters have vowed to take to the streets again to defend her administration, raising fears of a bloody new chapter in Thailand’s long political crisis.

Mass protests by the Red Shirts in 2010 triggered a military crackdown under Abhisit’s government that left dozens dead.

New election should be stopped: Abhisit

Posted by Rattana_S On February - 11 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has called on caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to accept the fact that the February 2 general election was unsuccessful and recognise that new balloting should be called off.

He said several segments of society were agreed that the country urgently needs national reform and that the snap polls, which failed to take place in scores of constituencies nationwide, should not be held again.

Abhisit said a general election, if held, should be organised by a neutral agency, and not by conflicting factions, adding that resolutions should jointly be discussed or the damage to the country would be more severe and the government would eventually fail to stay in power.

The former prime minister added that the government should urgently help debtstricken farmers and sell rice from the state stockpiles to raise the funds to pay them.

“If rice in the stockpiles is sold, the government will get the Bt30 billion it wants for overdue payments. Why doesn’t the government take action?” he asked.

Thai opposition to boycott 2 February elections

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Thailand’s main opposition Democrat Party has announced it will boycott snap elections set for 2 February.

Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva told a news conference it would not be fielding candidates, saying: “Thai politics is at a failed stage”.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called the election earlier this month in a bid to end weeks of mass protests.

The head of the Thai army has warned the country’s political divisions could “trigger a civil war”.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha has proposed a “people’s assembly” – made up of civilians from both sides, not the leaders, to heal the divisions.

The opposition-backed protests in Bangkok have caused Thailand’s most serious political turmoil since 2010.

Ms Yingluck won the last elections in 2011, but protesters say her brother – the controversial ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra – remains in charge.

‘Lost faith’

At his news conference, Mr Abhisit told reporters his party had agreed it would not field candidates in the snap elections.

“The Thai people have lost their faith in the democratic system,” he said.

The prime minister dissolved parliament and called the election on 9 December in a bid, she said, to avoid violence on the streets and “to give back the power to the Thai people”.

Her Pheu Thai party has a majority in parliament, and draws significant support from Thailand’s rural areas. It is seen as well-placed to win February’s election.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha said he was deeply concerned by the latest crisis, with divisions not just in Bangkok but across the whole country.

“The situation could trigger a civil war,” he told the Bangkok Post.

Setting out his vision of a “people’s assembly”, he said it should be made up of people from both sides of the political divide – known as the “red shirts”, those who support Thaksin Shinawatra, and the “yellow shirts”, those who oppose him.

“It must be from a neutral group and comprise non-core representatives of all colours, and all colour leaders must be excluded,” he said.

He did not give details on how or when the assembly would be set up, but said any proposal “must come from a public consensus and the public must brainstorm how to reach that consensus”.

He stressed his grouping would be different to the “people’s council” proposed by the opposition.

“The people’s assembly must not be organised or sponsored by any conflicting group, as it would not be accepted by the other side,” he said.

His comments came after a defence council meeting on Friday to discuss the 2 February election.

Defence spokesman Col Thanatip Sawangsaeng said the army “is ready to support the Election Commission in organising the elections when asked”.

But a military source has told the BBC that privately the army believes it would be better for the election to be delayed – as sought by the opposition parties.

Protests began nearly a month ago after Thailand’s lower house passed a controversial amnesty bill, which critics said could allow Thaksin Shinawatra to return without serving time in jail.

Mr Thaksin is currently in self-imposed exile after he was overthrown in a military army coup in 2006 and convicted of corruption.

The protesters say the former prime minister remains the power behind the ruling Pheu Thai party, and accuse it of using public funds irresponsibly to secure votes.

Former premier charged with murder

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was charged with murder Thursday in connection with the 2010 deaths of two protesters during a crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Abhisit, who was charged with the deaths of Pun Kamkong, 43, of Yasothon province and Kunakorn Srisuwan, 14, denied all the charges in the brief court hearing. He was later released on bail.

Some 90 people were killed in the 2010 violence. Relatives of some of those killed were waiting for Abhisit as he and his lawyer left the courthouse after a brief hearing, shouting “Murderer!’’ They also submitted a petition to the court, asking that he be denied bail.

The court set bail at Bt1.8 million, which Abhisit met by putting up a house deed in Chon Buri province. The court also ordered him to remain in Thailand until his trial starts on March 24.

Suthep Thaugsuban, then deputy premier, was also expected to face charges Thursday, though he has asked that his hearing be postponed until January.