Thai king endorses October 15 general election rerun

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Thailand's king, Bhumibol Adulyadej has endorsed a decree confirming that the new general election will take place on October 15, 2006.

The King's proclamation follows on from a year of political turmoil in the country, involving public demonstrations calling for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to step down amid perceptions of government corruption and legal malfeasance. A series of legal actions against popular public figures and opposition politicians led to further unrest and a surprise decision by Thaksin to hold a snap-election on April 2, 2006.

An opposition boycott left Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party certain of victory, but unable to meet the conditions of the constitution for opening parliament. By-elections were ordered in areas where unopposed candidates failed to be returned, however the country's constitutional court eventually ruled the April 2 election void due to privacy issues surrounding the arrangement of polling booths.

October's election may not be the final point in the ongoing political crisis, Thai Rak Thai and the opposition Democrats (Pak Prachatipat), alongside three minor parties, face allegations of election fraud which could lead to any of the parties being dissolved. Unfortunately the volume of evidence presented to the Constitutional Court may lead to a ruling being given after the election.

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