Thai opposition challenges polls in court

Democrat Party launches legal bid to have disrupted election annulled as bitter political crisis continues.

    Thailand's main opposition party has petitioned a court to annul last weekend's disrupted national election, launching a legal challenge that could prolong the deeply divided country's political paralysis.

    The opposition Democrat Party filed two complaints on Tuesday, ahead of an election commission meeting on Wednesday to probe possible campaigning irregularities.

    "We will argue that the election violated the constitution, in particular article 68 which prohibits people from undermining the constitutional monarchy and trying to grab power through unconstitutional means," opposition spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut told the Reuters news agency.

    Intarakomalyasut said the state of emergency, which the government imposed last month to control protests, meant that the election "could not be held under normal circumstances" and that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra party  should be dissolved.

    The election commission will also discuss problems surrounding  the election, including the failure to register candidates in 28 electoral districts after protesters blockaded candidate registration centres in December.

    During Sunday's election, demonstrators blocked balloting in a fifth of constituencies, saying Yingluck must resign and make way for an appointed "people's council" to overhaul a political system they say has been exploited by her billionaire brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

    "There was an opportunity throughout the last two months for the government to see the light and acknowledge that the February 2 election wasn’t going to provide a solution for the country." Korn Chatikavanij of the Democratic Party told Al Jazeera.

    Dysfunctional status quo

    The Democrats say that to end the crisis, the government needs to set up a council, subject to a referendum, that will implement wide-ranging political reforms. But they say the government has refused to hold discussions.

    Sunday's election was generally peaceful, with no repeat of the chaos seen the previous day, when supporters and opponents of Yingluck clashed in north Bangkok.

    "The anarchists in the streets just want to overthrow the government, overthrow the whole system. They said about the legitimacy of the government and they want to overthrow the government through every means," Pokin Polakun of (Yungluck's) Pheu Thai Party, told Al Jazeera.

    More rounds of voting will be held for unfilled parliamentary seats - but the process could take months. It is unlikely to change the dysfunctional status quo in a country blighted by eight years of polarisation and turmoil.

    It means that parliament will not have enough members to convene - which could lead the country to be stuck in a political limbo while by-elections are conducted in the constituencies which were unable to vote.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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