Thai poll re-runs pass peacefully

March 03, 2014 - 5:02:02 am
PHETCHABURI: Thailand’s first poll re-runs passed peacefully yesterday following a widely disrupted general election, as pro-government “Red Shirts” stepped up rallies in support of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s battered administration.

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

The Election Commission said results cannot be announced until polls have been held in all constituencies, setting a late-April deadline for their completion.

Yingluck can only remain 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 around 120,000 people were registered to vote yesterday across more than 100 constituencies in five provinces. He said the re-runs, the first attempted since February 2, had been held “peacefully... without any problems”.

But only a trickle of voters were seen at several polling stations in Phetchaburi, an opposition heartland around 160km south of Bangkok, according to witnesses. “I was disappointed that I had the right to vote on February 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 website the Election Commission said senators will 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. Afp