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Opposition loses bid to annul Thai election

Agence France-Presse . Bangkok

Thailand’s opposition on Wednesday lost a legal bid to nullify a controversial election disrupted by anti-government protests, in a boost to prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s crisis-hit administration.
The kingdom’s Constitutional Court declined to consider the petition by the Democrat Party to annul the February 2 vote and disband Yingluck’s party, saying there were insufficient grounds.
‘It gives a little bit of breathing space for the government but it does not resolve the deadlock,’ said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University.
‘The election process remains messy but it has not been derailed,’ he added.
Demonstrators prevented 10,000 polling stations from opening in this month’s vote, affecting several million people, mainly in opposition strongholds in Bangkok and the south.
The Election Commission has said the results of the vote will not be announced until polls have been held in all constituencies.
Yingluck will remain in a caretaker role with limited power over policy until 95 per cent of the 500 seats in the lower house of parliament are filled to enable the appointment of a new government.
The premier called the polls in an attempt to assuage opposition protesters who have staged more than three months of mass street protests seeking her resignation.
The Democrats boycotted the vote, saying it would not end a political crisis stretching back to a military coup in 2006 that ousted Yingluck’s elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra as premier.
The protesters want Yingluck to stand down to make way for an unelected ‘People’s Council’ to enact reforms to tackle corruption and alleged vote buying before new polls are held.
The Democrats had argued that the failure to hold the entire election on the same day was an attempt to grab power unconstitutionally — a complaint rejected by the court.
‘This case is over,’ said the head of the opposition’s legal team, Wiratana Kalayasiri, who filed the petition.
‘But if the government does anything wrong again, we will make another complaint,’ he told AFP.




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