Mon, Mar 03, 2014 - Page 1 News List

First Thai election reruns pass peacefully


Street cleaners hose down the streets in the Pathum Wan District of Bangkok after anti-government protesters retreated yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Thailand’s first elections reruns passed peacefully yesterday following a widely disrupted general election, while pro-government Red Shirts stepped up their rallies in support of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s battered administration.

The Feb. 2 election failed to ease a four-month political crisis when protesters seeking to topple Yingluck’s government caused the closure of about 10 percent of the polling stations, many in opposition strongholds.

The Thai Election Commission said the results would not be announced until polls had been held in all constituencies by the end of next month.

Yingluck remains prime minister in a caretaker role until then with limited power over policy, further eroding her authority as she handles ongoing street protests and a series of legal challenges against her administration.

Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said about 120,000 people were registered to vote yesterday across more than 100 constituencies in five provinces.

He said the reruns, the first attempted since Feb. 2, had been held “peacefully ... without any problems.”

However, only a trickle of voters were seen at several polling stations in Phetchaburi, an opposition heartland about 160km south of Bangkok, a reporter said.

“I was disappointed that I had the right to vote on Feb. 2, but couldn’t,” Sangwan Yuusuk, 57, said at a polling station.

Under election law, 95 percent of the 500 seats in the lower house of parliament must be filled to enable the appointment of a new government.

On its Web site the Election Commission said senators would be elected on March 30.

The main opposition Democrat party, which boycotted the general election, last month lost a legal bid to nullify the poll.

Meanwhile, anti-government protesters began dismantling rally stages at several key intersections in Bangkok yesterday after announcing the end of a weeks-long self-proclaimed “shutdown” of the city.

Despite their pullback, analysts say Yingluck’s hold on power remains precarious, with anti-corruption authorities pressing charges over her role in the controversial rice scheme that could lead to her removal from office and a five-year ban from politics.

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