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Thailand to hold election re-runs in April

Thailand will hold election re-runs in April in constituencies where voting was obstructed by opposition protesters earlier this month, poll officials announced on Tuesday.

BANGKOK: Thailand will hold election re-runs in April in constituencies where voting was obstructed by opposition protesters earlier this month, poll officials announced on Tuesday.

Millions were denied the opportunity to cast ballots, with blockades by demonstrators seeking to prevent the re-election of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra causing the closure of some 10 per cent of polling stations.

Voting will be held on April 27 for polling stations that were unable to open on February 2, Election Commission secretary general Puchong Nutrawong told AFP.

Another round of advance voting will take place a week before.

But there is still no decision on what to do about 28 constituencies that have no candidates because protesters blocked the registration process.

Yingluck called the February 2 snap election to try to end months of mass rallies against her government, but the main opposition Democrat Party boycotted the vote and protesters have refused to end their action.

Eleven people have been killed and hundreds injured in violence related to the political standoff.

Unless some kind of compromise is reached, the risk is that the demonstrators will try to block the re-runs as well.

The protesters want Yingluck to resign to make way for an unelected "People's Council" to enact vaguely-defined reforms before new elections.

They say she is a mere puppet for her elder brother, fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra whom they accuse of corruption and vote-buying.

Thaksin, a controversial billionaire tycoon-turned-politician, was ousted as prime minister in a coup in 2006 and lives in Dubai to avoid jail for a corruption conviction.

He is adored by the rural poor in the north and northeast but loathed by many in the Bangkok middle class and southerners.

The Election Commission has said the vote results 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 there is a quorum of 95 per cent of the 500 seats in the lower house of parliament to enable the appointment of a new government.

The opposition has asked the Constitutional Court to nullify the election -- one of several legal moves against Yingluck.

The United States has urged Thailand's army not to launch a coup to end the stalemate.

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