Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

Thailand set for polls tomorrow amid anti-govt protests

Anti-government protesters march through the streets of the Chinatown area of Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo: AP) Anti-government protesters march through the streets of the Chinatown area of Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo: AP)
Press Trust of India | Bangkok | Posted: February 1, 2014 3:26 pm | Updated: February 1, 2014 4:58 pm

Thailand will go to polls on Sunday amid a standoff between embattled premier Yingluck Shinawatra and opposition-backed anti-government protesters who have vowed to disrupt the elections.

More than 93,000 polling stations will be set up across the country for the polls and over 2,00,000 police personnel would be deployed. A total of 49 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.

The main opposition Democrat Party is boycotting the controversial elections, with its leader Abhisit Vejjajiva saying that he will not vote.

Amid rising concerns over clashes and violence, authorities have decided to provide extra security cover to certain government figures, including caretaker prime minister Yingluck and some important politicians.

Ballot boxes have so far not reached local election offices in many areas, particularly in the country’s south, an opposition stronghold, due to a blockade by protesters.

There is also a severe shortage of officials to man polling stations after many of them resigned.

Protesters have vowed to disrupt voting and block all roads leading to polling stations across the capital tomorrow, raising doubts over the legitimacy of the snap polls called by Yingluck in a bid to calm months of street rallies, sometimes violent.

A 60-day emergency that was imposed last week in Bangkok and some surrounding areas in an attempt to tackle protesters is still in force.

The Civil Court yesterday refused to issue an injunction to suspend the state of emergency in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces, pending a judicial review of the case against the government’s imposition of the emergency decree.

The court reasoned that the situation did not warrant an injunction as requested by Thaworn Senneam, a leader of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiy-akorn has advised election officials to end voting at polling stations if there is a risk of violence.

Voting will be held again for eligible voters who fail to exercise their right if polling stations are closed prematurely, he said.

Protesters have been holding rallies across Bangkok and have blocked major intersections for the past two months calling for Yingluck’s government to quit, an unelected people’s Council to be formed and the polls to be scrapped.

However, Premier Yingluck has held her ground and decided to go ahead with the elections.

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