03/21/2014, 00.00
THAILAND
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Bangkok Constitutional Court annuls recent elections

The February 2 general elections, called by Prime Minister Shinawatra, are invalid because “not held on the same day throughout the country". Unclear if new round will be called, but the opposition threatens to boycott the polls again.

Bangkok ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - Thailand's Constitutional Court has ruled the 2 February general election invalid, because they "were not held on the same day across the nation". The decision, taken by 6 of the 9 judges who represent the highest instance of justice in the country, was issued after a lawyer filed an appeal on the manner in which consultations were held. It is unclear when a new election will be called.

The decision is likely to further exacerbate an already tenuous social and political crisis in Thailand. Anti-government demonstrations (a mix of members of the middle class, royalists and citizens from the south) have been rocking the nation since November last year.  The protests are the biggest since 2010, when the kingdom was shaken by a series of streets riots that ended with a bloodshed and the deaths of 90 civilians.

The protesters accuse the prime minister of being "her brother Thaksin's puppet", for years the country's leader and much-loved rural areas but disliked by the middle class and the national bureaucracy. According to sources in the Medical Department of Bangkok, the death toll since the crisis is at least 23 dead and over 700 injured.

The February 2 snap elections were called by the Prime Minister as a "gesture of openness" towards protesters.  However they were boycotted by the opposition and resulted in the overwhelming (and obvious) victory of Pheu Thai, the majority party led by Shinawatra. Suthep Thaugsuban, an opposition leader and former deputy national minister, commented on the Constitutional Court decision and the possibility of a new boycott: "If new elections are declared, then we will take care of every province and consultation will prove useless again".

The opposition and the protesters who support it, do not want a new vote but the establishment of a "People's Council" made ​​up of unelected members of the political landscape. This Council should act to "limit the negative influence of the Shinawatra" in national politics and the economy and then convene a general election at a later date.

 

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