12/23/2013, 00.00
THAILANDIA
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Bangkok, opposition wants to block February 2 vote

Anti-government campaign mounts to prevent return to the polls. Stadium used by MPs and parties to submit nominations surrounded. Prime Minister calls for respect for "democratic system". Some demonstrators want to cancel the principle of "one person, one vote" to prevent another Shinawatra victory.

Bangkok ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - Thai opposition attempts to disrupt the upcoming elections are being stepped up. This morning, anti-government "Yellow Shirts" surrounded Bangkok stadium, where registration is taking place for the February 2 vote. They are calling for "political reform" before returning to the polls. In recent weeks, the protest leaders, backed by the capital's economic and financial elite have rejected an immediate return to the polls, instead calling for the formation of a "council of the people" entrusted with the task of eradicating the influence of the "Thaksin regime" from the country. In reality the aim of the opposition is to stop the electoral successes of the Shinawatra family - first Thaksin and then his sister Yingluck - who have dominated polls over the past ten years due to widespread consensus in urban areas and among the poorest peasants in the north.


At the beginning of the month all the MPs of the Democratic Party (the main opposition) resigned. Some of them, including former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, went on to join protesters. The party leadership has not yet announced whether it intends to participate or not in the vote, but it is clear that any boycott would mine the legitimacy of the election, fueling instability and uncertainty. The Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has repeated her call for demonstrators to respect the "democratic system".

Throughout the day yesterday at least 150 thousand people - the organizers claim the actual turnout was greater, almost one million - took to the streets in of the capital, loudly demanding the resignation of the executive. The leader of the protest Suthep Thaugsuban , a leading Democrat and former deputy prime minister until 2011, confirmed they do not want new elections, until "the national political system is reformed ." He urged the demonstrators to gather outside the stadium, to stop the actual registration of candidates for election . "If you want to register - he added - first you have to pass over our body".

In response, registration for parties intending to run in the election was transferred to a police station, which in turn was immediately surrounded by protesters. Registration must be completed by December 27. Nine political parties have so far been able to register, but many were left outside, unable to complete formal registration procedures as required by the electoral code.

The protests have been building for several weeks now, and despite some moments of tension which left four people dead have been largely peaceful. The military leaders, the real power behind the throne in Thailand have till now remained largely neutral ahead of the February 2 vote. Some protesters, want an end to the "one person, one vote" system and representative model given the great popularity of the government in rural areas which would guarantee them victory in the next election.

The anti -government protests - a mix of members of the middle class, royalists and the inhabitants of the south - are the biggest since 2010, when the kingdom was shaken by a series of riots that ended in bloodshed and death 90 civilians. The protesters want the resignation of the government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra , accused of being a "puppet" in the hands of her brother Thaksin , the billionaire and former prime minister in exile to escape a two-year prison sentence. In reality, the current government was democratically elected in 2011 and 28 November last easily survived a no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition in Parliament (297 votes against 134).

 

 

 

 

 

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