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Thailand elections can be postponed, court rules

Thailand,Politics,Defence/Security, Fri, 24 Jan 2014 IANS

Bangkok, Jan 24 (IANS) Thailand's general elections, due early next month, can be postponed in view of the ongoing political unrest following anti-government protests that began in November last year, the country's constitution court ruled Friday.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had called the elections Feb 2. The court said the caretaker prime minister should discuss a new polling date with Election Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen, the Bangkok Post reported.

The Election Commission requested the ruling, arguing that it cannot hold safe and successful elections in the current political situation, after nearly three months of street demonstrations against the government.

The protestors are demanding that no elections be held until implementation of major political reforms. They have threatened to disrupt the polls and have prevented candidates from registering in some of the constituencies.

However, the caretaker government has argued that the ballot cannot be put off on the grounds that the constitution would only allow such a delay under abnormal circumstances such as a natural disaster or civil war.

The Thai government decided to impose Emergency Jan 21 for two months to control the ongoing political protests.

The emergency decree gives security agencies the power to impose curfew, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings of more than five people and declare parts of the capital off-limits.

Anti-government protestors have enforced a Bangkok shutdown since Jan 13, erecting roadblocks and protest stages at several intersections, although a number of protestors have been severely injured in bomb attacks Jan 17 and 19.

Since November, protestors have been taking to the streets and occupying government offices, calling for an end to the government.

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