Thai Election Commission Suggests Minimum One Month Vote Delay
Bangkok – Thailand’s Election Commission said a contentious election planned for next week should be postponed for at least a month, warning of more bloodshed after violent clashes over the weekend. The commission meets embattled Prime Minister YingluckShinawatra on Tuesday to discuss the election date after a Constitutional Court ruling opened the way for a delay in the face of months of anti-government protests in the capital.
“As election officials, it is our job to make sure elections are successful, but we also need to make sure the country is peaceful enough to hold the election. We don’t want it to be bloody,” SomchaiSrisutthiyakorn, a Commission member, told Reuters on Monday.
Interior Minister JarupongRuangsuwan, also head of the ruling Puea Thai Party, told Reuters the government would not back down on the date. “We have to press ahead with the February 2 election … A postponement would be futile and would only give independent organizations more time to target the government,” he said.
A protest leader was killed and 12 injured in a clash at an advance voting station in the Bangkok district of Bang-Na. That brought the death toll to 10 since protesters took to the streets of Bangkok in November to try to throw Yingluck’s government out of office. In a clear setback for Yingluck, protesters blocked as many as 45 of the capital’s 50 polling stations on Sunday. But advance polls went ahead in 292 of the 375 electoral areas nationwide, the Election Commission said.
Yingluck called the February 2 election in the hope of confirming her hold on power, but the protests have continued and protest leader SuthepThaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister, has rejected the election outright, saying he wants sweeping national reforms before a vote. (Reuters)