[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Thai protesters vow larger rallies after poll

Ministries close after major intersections occupied by protesters in Bangkok to nullify results of elections.

Last updated: 03 Feb 2014 13:35
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Thai protesters have vowed to stage larger rallies in central Bangkok and push ahead their efforts to nullify the results of elections held over the weekend despite disruption and protests.

According to the national election commission, the voter turnout on Sunday was at least 46 percent. Despite fears of violence, voting proceeded peacefully in 90 percent of polling stations that were able to open.

Protesters had forced polling booths to close in Bangkok and southern Thailand, disenfranchising registered voters.

As a result, not all Parliament seats will be filled and a series of by-elections are required to complete voting, extending political paralysis for months.

After disrupting voting, protesters said they would fight the results on several grounds, including that it is required by law to be held on one day.

The opposition Democrat Party, which backs the protesters and boycotted the vote, said on Monday that it was studying other legal justifications to invalidate the election.

The struggle to hold the poll was part of a three-month-old dispute that has split the country between supporters of the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and opponents who allege her government is too corrupt to rule.

Protester 'mission'

Demonstrators have occupied major intersections in Bangkok and forced government ministries to shut down and work elsewhere.

"We are not giving up the fight. We still keep fighting," protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said. "Our mission is to keep shutting down government offices, so don't ask us to give those back."

Suthep, a former opposition politician, said the movement was closing two of its Bangkok protest sites and asking crowds to consolidate at five other locations, mostly in the business centre of the capital.

Protesters have shut major intersections in the Silom and Sukhumvit business districts and Ratchaprasong shopping district, where the city's upscale malls are located.

The protesters want to suspend democracy and demand the government be replaced by an unelected council that would rewrite political and electoral laws to combat deep-seated problems of corruption and money politics.

Yingluck has refused to step down, arguing she was elected by a landslide majority and is open to reform but that such a council would be unconstitutional and undemocratic.

The protesters are a minority that cannot win through elections, but are a formidable alliance of opposition leaders, royalists and powerful businessmen.

They have won past battles, by removing Yingluck's brother, the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in a 2006 army coup, and by forcing out two Thaksin-allied prime ministers through controversial legal rulings.

Nullifying the vote

Suthep's public assurance to followers that the ballot would be nullified leaves "no doubt" that the Constitutional Court will end up hearing a case to annul it, and Verapat Pariyawong, an independent Harvard-educated lawyer.

If the ballot is nullified, Verapat said there will be "more blood on the streets", a reference to the expectation that government supporters in the north are unlikely to sit idle.

Before Thaksin was deposed in 2006, the Constitutional Court nullified a vote won by his party a month earlier. The ruling partly found that the positioning of ballot booths had compromised voter privacy.

514

Source:
Associated Press
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
The group's takeover of farms in Qaraqosh, 30km from Mosul, has caused fear among residents, and a jump in food prices.
Protests and online activism in recent months have brought a resurgence of ethnic Oromo nationalism in Ethiopia.
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
join our mailing list