Thailand election was invalid, rules court

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Monday, May 8, 2006

Thailand's Constitutional Court has ruled that the general election, held on April 2, 2006, is invalid and orders a fresh poll. Thailand is in the middle of political turmoil since the election, which was called by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the face of mounting protests.

"The constitutional court voted 8 to 6 that the elections were unconstitutional and voted 9 to 5 to hold a new election," said Judge Ura Wangomklang on Monday.

Earlier, the opposition parties boycotted the April poll. As a result, some of the seats remained empty, which meant parliament could not be formed. Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister, was unable to form a new government.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand had to intervene to resolve the crisis. He described the situation as a "mess" and said any parliament with no opposition presence would be undemocratic. He initiated the court to pass a ruling to bring back the country to normalcy.

The crisis began when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra sold 49.6% family stake in telecoms company Shin Corporation in January. Massive protests were held all over demanding his resignation. He dissolved the parliament in February and called for an emergency election to prove he still had widespread public support. Three main opposition parties decided to boycott the poll.

Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT), led by Thaksin Shinawatra won 57% of the votes in the election held in April amid opposition boycotts. But there were millions of "Reject" votes (That is, voters selecting "None of the above"), which lead to 40 seats being vacant and the Legislature unable to set up a government. Two rounds of by-elections failed to resolve the crisis.

Soon afterwards, under the intervention of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the top judges from Thailand's three main judicial institutions - the Supreme, Administrative and Constitutional courts - met to discuss the situation.

Thailand's ruling Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) and the former opposition Democrat party pledged on Monday to join the new poll after the court ruling.

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