Thailand's Feb 2 polls date in question
THAILAND'S Constitutional Court yesterday deferred a ruling on whether a general election scheduled for Feb 2 can be postponed, as protesters who say they will boycott the vote kept up pressure on the government to step down.
The Election Commission said the country is too volatile to hold a general election now and that technicalities meant it is bound to result in a Parliament with too few lawmakers to form a quorum.
The government said the decree to hold the election on that date has been signed by the King and cannot be changed.
"The Constitutional Court has accepted this case and we will look at the legal issues involved. If there is enough evidence, we may hand down a decision tomorrow," said court spokesman Pimol Thampithakpong.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra declared a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas from Wednesday, hoping to prevent an escalation in the protests now in their third month.
Nine people have been killed in outbursts of violence, including two grenade attacks in Bangkok over the weekend.
A leading pro-government activist was shot and wounded on Wednesday in Thailand's north-east, a stronghold of the Shinawatra family, adding to fears the violence could spread.
A ruling in favour of the Election Commission would deepen Thailand's political quagmire, already weighing on investor enthusiasm for South-east Asia's second-biggest economy.
The main opposition Democrat Party said it will boycott the vote. Thais living overseas have already voted and advance voting will take place around the country on Sunday. The protesters have said they would try to disrupt the election.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said this week that his troops might have to play a bigger role if serious violence breaks out.
He told reporters: "If such violence erupts and no one is able to solve it, the troops will have to step in and tackle it. We will look after our nation using the right methods."