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Asia-pacific

Thai court refuses to annul divisive February 2 election

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-12

The Thai opposition lost a legal bid Wednesday to nullify a controversial February 2 early election called by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (centre) in a bid to appease demonstrators who have spent months protesting her administration.

The Constitutional Court declined to consider the petition, launched by the opposition Democrat Party, to annul the vote and disband Yingluck's party, saying there were insufficient legal grounds for the move.

"This case is over," said the head of the opposition's legal team, Wiratana Kalayasiri, who filed the petition.

"But if the government does anything wrong again, we will make another complaint," he told AFP.

Yingluck called the early polls in an attempt to calm more than three months of mass street protests by those seeking her resignation.

The Democrats boycotted the vote, saying it would not end the political crisis that has its roots in a 2006 military coup which ousted Yingluck's elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra as premier.

Yingluck's opponents say her government is still controlled by her brother, who fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid going to jail for a corruption conviction and now lives in Dubai.

The protesters want to bring an end to the family's entrenched influence, calling for Yingluck to stand down to make way for an unelected "People's Council" that would enact reforms to tackle corruption and bring an end to alleged vote-buying before new polls are held.

Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election for more than a decade, most recently in 2011 when Yingluck came to power, helped by strong support in the northern half of the kingdom.

Yingluck also faces an investigation by an anti-corruption panel into possible negligence of duty in connection with her flagship rice subsidy scheme – a move that could potentially result in her impeachment.

Awaiting vote results

The Election Commission has said the results of this month's election will not be announced until polls have been held in all constituencies.

Demonstrators prevented 10,000 polling stations from opening for the vote, affecting several million people, mainly in opposition strongholds in Bangkok and in the south.

Yingluck will remain in a caretaker role with limited power over policy until there is a quorum of 95 percent of the 500 seats in the lower house of parliament to enable the appointment of a new government.

The Election Commission on Tuesday set a date of April 27 for election re-runs in constituencies where voting was disrupted. But there is still no decision on what to do about 28 constituencies that have no candidates because demonstrators blocked the registration process.

Protesters have occupied major intersections in the capital since January 13 in a self-styled "shutdown" of Bangkok, although disruption to people's daily lives has been limited. Attendance has fallen sharply with most sites nearly deserted for much of the day before thousands join the rallies in the evenings.

Since the demonstrations began there have been several grenade attacks and shootings in the capital – part of a wave of political violence sparked by the mostly peaceful protests that has left at least 10 people dead and hundreds injured.

Protest leaders have called for a a new two-day massive protest starting on Friday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-02-12

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