Thailand’s election ruled invalid

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Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled that a general election held in February was invalid, but the country’s political crisis appeared again to be complicating arrangements for a new vote.

The judges voted 6-3 to declare the February 2 election unconstitutional because voting was not held that day in 28 constituencies where protesters had prevented candidates from registering. The constitution says the election must be held on the same day nationwide, although it also allows advance voting.

“The process (now) is to have a new general election,” Pimol Thampitakpong, the court’s secretary-general, said.

Election commission president Supachai Somcharoen said it would be no less than three months until the general election can take place again. In 2006, there was an eight-month gap before rescheduled polls were to be held after an election was nullified, but before it could take place, the army carried out a coup.

Thailand has suffered from severe political conflict since 2006, when then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra – brother of current prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra – was ousted by a military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin’s supporters and opponents have since taken to the streets for extended periods in a power struggle.

Prompong Nopparit, a spokesman for Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party, said it would take an official position after studying the ruling. The party feels it has been treated unfairly by the courts, which its sees as hostile.

“We insist that the Pheu Thai Party will play by the rules under democracy and by nonviolent means, no matter how much we are bullied,” he said.