Thai Opposition Debates Whether to Run in February Election
Bangkok – Thailand’s main opposition party opened a meeting on Monday to decide whether to take part in a snap election called by the government to defuse street protests but one senior member said reforms demanded by the protesters should be implemented first. Prime Minister YingluckShinawatra called the election after weeks of protests against her and her brother, ousted ex-prime minister ThaksinShinawatra, and his influence on Thailand’s political system.
The protesters, backed by Bangkok’s elite, have rejected the election and want to set up a “people’s council” that would eradicate the influence of the “Thaksin regime” and introduce reforms following a decade of election wins by Thaksin or his allies with support from the urban and rural poor.
The protests have also been supported by the main opposition Democrat Party, Thailand’s oldest party. All Democrat lawmakers resigned from parliament this month and some joined the protests, including leader AbhisitVejjajiva, who was prime minister from late 2008 until 2011. But the party has yet to announce its stand on the February 2 election. A boycott by the Democrats would rob the vote of much of its legitimacy and prolong political uncertainty.
KornChatikavanij, widely respected as finance minister under Abhisit, said he would not be standing for the party executive at the meeting, which ends on Tuesday. His intentions are not clear and he was not immediately available for comment.
Korn has crossed swords with protest leader SuthepThaugsuban, another long-time Democrat lawmaker who had stepped down earlier, and has largely stayed away from his rallies, but he played down any differences in a Facebook posting. “I agree with the need for reforms and want to see reforms before elections take place … You know well where I disagree with the protest leaders but this is a minor issue and doesn’t affect our overall goal,” Korn wrote. (Reuters)