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Petition on poll rejected

Posted by Rattana_S On February - 13 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Constitutional Court does not see merit in Democrat plea against February 2 election

(The Nation) The Constitutional Court yesterday rejected a Democrat Party petition to nullify the February 2 election, saying the court found no merit to hear the case.

The election, though not completed, could not be considered as an unconstitutional way to acquire power to rule the country, the court said.

“The case is not admissible as Article 68 of the Constitution is not applicable in this case,” it said. Former Democrat MP Wirat Kalayasiri had earlier asked the court to invalidate the snap election on the ground that it was not held completely across the country within one day.

Wirat’s petition said that caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra wanted to use the election to whitewash her corruption and misconduct. She wanted the election to justify her return to power, he said.

The petition said the government had insisted on holding the election despite knowing the poll would not be valid. The petition also said holding an election during a state of emergency could not be deemed free and fair as it would give the ruling Pheu Thai Party the upper hand. However, the decision by the court yesterday not to accept the petition will not close the door on other petitions to nullify the election, as the poll process is still far from completed.

Wirat said after the court ruling that the Election Commission should take the complaints over the election’s validity raised by himself and Senator Paiboon Nititawan to the Constitutional Court. “If the court nullifies the election, the political crisis will be over and other actions, such as dissolution of the Pheu Thai Party, could be taken,” he said. The EC has set April 20 as the new election date for voters who failed to cast their ballots in advance voting on January 26, and April 27 for voting in the constituencies, which were blocked from the February 2 election. The EC, however, remains unsure whether it has the legal authority to set the new election date. It will ask the government to issue a new Royal Decree to set the new election date for the remaining 28 constituencies.

“It is still difficult to have the election completely done, but we have to set the date for voting to show that we are working to solve the problem,” said EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen. “It would be a waste of budget if we set a new date but the polls again cannot be held due to disruptions in the eight southern provinces.”

The EC failed to hold the election in the entire country on February 2, as anti-government protesters blocked the ballot process and disrupted it in many provinces. The South is the stronghold of the Democrat, which boycotted the election.

Asked if the situation would improve in late April to enable the election, Supachai said the delay would allow conflicting parities to have time to think about the situation and seek a way to compromise.

Democrat spokesman Chavanont Intarakomalyasut said fixing a new election date was against the Constitution, which says the election must be held in the entire nation within one day.

Pheu Thai spokesman Promphong Nopparit said the EC move to set a new election day was part of a conspiracy to topple the government as it opened another chance for the Democrat Party and the protesters to bring the case to the Constitutional Court to invalidate the election and later shift the blame on the government.

Former PM Chuan’s Trang home attacked

Posted by Rattana_S On January - 2 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A gunman fired at the home of former prime minister Chuan Leekpai in his hometown province of Trang last night, an attack which police believe may have been politically motivated.

Trang provincial police commander Pol Maj Gen Jirawat Udomsud and his team inspected the home of the Democrat Party chief adviser following the late night attack by an unknown gunman.

Nine 9mm pistol cartridge casings were found outside the house. However no damage was reported. Jirawat said police are investigating the case and focusing on politics-related factors.

Kit Leekpai, president of the Trang Provincial Administration Organization, who is also Mr Chuan’s brother, said he too believes that the attack is involved with politics.

He noted that a similar incident had occurred at the home of protest leader Sathit Wongnongtoey in Huayyod district last month following the attempt of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to obstruct the constituency MP candidacy registration for upcoming general election.

Thai opposition party to boycott election

Posted by Rattana_S On December - 22 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(Reuters) – Thailand’s main opposition party announced on Saturday it would boycott an election in February, deepening uncertainty about the poll and fuelling a campaign to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.

Yingluck called a snap election on December 9 to try to ease simmering tensions but the movement against her is planning mass rallies across Bangkok on Sunday as part of a “people’s coup” to force her and the billionaire Shinawatra family out of politics.

The Democrat Party unanimously agreed during a meeting on Saturday that their participation in the election would have legitimized a democratic system it said had been distorted by those in power.

“Thai politics is at a failed stage,” party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, a former prime minister, told reporters in announcing the decision not to run. “The Thai people have lost their faith in the democratic system.”

It was not immediately clear whether the Democrats, Thailand’s oldest political party, would join a protest movement led by former party heavyweight, Suthep Thaugsuban, which wants to suspend democracy and install an appointed “people’s council” to reform the country. Several party members, Abhisit included, have attended rallies this month.

The boycott adds to concerns that powerful forces allied with the Democrats will seek to block an election that is otherwise likely to return Yingluck’s Puea Thai Party to power, and perpetuate the influence of her self-exiled brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Puea Thai is the latest incarnation of a political machine controlled by the Shinawatra family, which has won every election since 2001 thanks to policies like easy loans, cheap healthcare and a raft of state subsidies.

Those giveaways won Thaksin the loyalty of millions of rural poor voters but have riled a powerful minority – Bangkok’s middle classes, bureaucrats, old-money conservatives and top army generals.

Thaksin’s enemies see him as an authoritarian crony capitalist who exploits democracy to cement his power and dole out favors for his wealthy business friends and family.

Suthep has asked the much-politicized military to support his movement, but it insists it is neutral and has offered to help ensure the election runs smoothly.

The Democrats were initially split on whether or not to run. Some supported Suthep’s call for reforms by an appointed “people’s council”, but others worried a boycott would damage the credibility of the party and cast it into the political wilderness for four years.

REFORMS PROMISED

Yingluck remains in charge as caretaker premier and has refused to quit, arguing that constitution does not allow her to resign. On Saturday she accepted reforms needed to be made, but only after the election.

“The government realizes that the country needs to be reformed. However, the reforms should run in line with democratic principles,” Yingluck said in a televised address.

She floated the idea of forming a “country reforming council” after the election comprised of multiple stakeholders to provide ideas on how to implement changes acceptable to all sides. It is unlikely to appease her opponents.

Yingluck’s troubles escalated in November when Puea Thai tried to push an amnesty bill that would have nullified the graft conviction of Thaksin, who lives in self-exile in Dubai but remains central to the eight years of on-off political turmoil that has divided Thailand.

Demonstrators poured onto the streets in anger at the move and though the Senate shot down the bill and Yingluck promised not to re-introduce it, Suthep’s protests gathered momentum.

Thousands marched in Bangkok on Thursday and Friday, demanding the end of the “Thaksin regime”.

Akanat Promphan, a spokesman for the protest group said on Saturday it supported an election, but only after reforms it wants to spearhead were implemented.

Protests against Thaksin and his allies are nothing new in Thailand. Street movements in 2006 and 2008 led to interventions by courts or the army that toppled governments he led or controlled, angering his supporters, who accuse powerful elites of leaning on Thailand’s institutions to subvert democracy.

The Election Commission on Friday dismissed speculation it would postpone the February 2 vote having earlier said it was concerned there could be unrest at the polls and might delay them if all parties agreed.

The Democrats’ boycotted an election called during similar protests in 2006, when Thaksin sought to renew his mandate. His party won in a landslide, but the result was annulled on a technicality. He was toppled in a coup several months later.

(Additional reporting by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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.

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