Thai court to rule on election validity

March 21, 2014 - 9:41:39 am

BANGKOK: Thailand's Constitutional Court is expected to rule Friday on a new legal bid to nullify a February election disrupted by opposition protesters.

The case is one of a slew of legal challenges facing the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who has withstood calls to resign despite months of political street protests.

The petition, filed by a Bangkok law lecturer, is based on arguments including that the election was not held on the same day in all constituencies, that candidate registration venues were changed without advance notice, and that a state of emergency prevented a fair vote.

A similar bid, submitted by the opposition on the grounds that the failure to hold the entire election on the same day was an attempt to grab power unconstitutionally, was rejected by the Constitutional Court last month.

Yingluck's government, in a caretaker role following the incomplete February 2 election, faces a series of legal challenges that could lead to her removal from office, including negligence charges linked to a rice subsidy scheme.

Her opponents see the moves as a long-overdue effort to clean up politics, while her supporters reject them as a politically-motivated attempt to oust an elected government.

Yingluck has faced more than four months of street demonstrations seeking to force her from office and install an unelected government to oversee reforms and curb the dominance of her billionaire family.

Twenty-three people have been killed in recent weeks in gun and grenade attacks, mostly targeting protesters.

It is the latest chapter in a political crisis stretching back to a military coup in 2006 that ousted Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a divisive tycoon-turned-politician who lives in Dubai to avoid prison for a corruption conviction.

On Tuesday, Thailand ended a state of emergency in force for almost two months in Bangkok and surrounding areas. 

Reflecting an improvement in security since protesters scaled down their rallies at the start of March. (AFP)