BANGKOK Jan 24 Thailand's Constitutional Court
could rule on Friday whether a Feb. 2 election can go ahead,
though whatever it decides there is little sign of a quick end
to the political crisis dragging down Southeast Asia's second
Anti-government firebrand Suthep Thaugsuban, who has called
for a boycott of the election, told his whistle-blowing
supporters at a rally on Thursday night to disrupt the vote if
it does take place.
"I'm telling you now, you must not get ready to vote. You
must not go because we will close every road," Suthep told the
"I want you to know that the (anti-government movement) ...
is ready in every province. There is no way this election will
take place," he said.
The Constitutional Court deferred a ruling on Thursday
whether the February vote can be postponed. The Election
Commission says the country is too volatile to hold a general
election now and that technicalities mean it is bound to result
in a parliament with too few lawmakers to form a quorum.
The government says the decree to hold the election on that
date has been signed by the king and cannot be changed.
Even if the main opposition party does compete, political
analysts say Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra would almost
certainly win the vote, which she called to win a fresh mandate
for her government in the face of the protests trying to push
her from power.
The protests are the latest eruption of an eight-year-long
tussle for power that in broad terms sets Bangkok's middle class
and the royalist establishment that Suthep claims to represent
against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her
brother, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin fled into exile in 2008 to avoid a jail sentence for
abuse of power, after being toppled by the army in 2006.
The protesters accuse him and his sister of corruption and
nepotism and want a "people's council" to take over the running
of the country to introduce large-scale, but so far vaguely
The government has imposed a state of emergency that gives
it sweeping powers to make arrests, set a curfew and prevent
So far, it has made no moves to implement measures or
disperse the thinning numbers of protesters who have blocked off
some parts of the capital with their "Shutdown Bangkok"
movement, now in its third month.
Most economists have cut growth forecasts Thailand this year
and some companies are reviewing investment plans as a result of
the political deadlock.
The protests have been mostly quiet this week after an
explosion of violence at the weekend in which one man died and
dozens of anti-government protesters were wounded. Nine people
have died since the protests began in November.
The violence is the worst since 2010 when Suthep, at the
time a deputy prime minister, sent in troops to end mass
protests by pro-Thaksin supporters.
The army, which has staged or attempted 18 coups in the past
81 years of on-off democracy, has so far kept out of the fray.
The government has gone out of its way to avoid
confrontation with the protesters, allowing them to close off a
number of government offices. Its "red shirt" supporters have
also largely kept away from the capital.