|Thai protesters determined to boot out Shinawatra regime
Thai opposition protesters stepped up their campaign to disrupt upcoming elections, trying to block candidate registrations as part of efforts to banish Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her family including her billionaire brother in exile Thaksin Shinawatra, from politics.
The main opposition Democrat Party, which has not won an elected majority in parliament in about two decades, has vowed to boycott the February 2 polls called by Yingluck, AFP reports.
At least 150,000 people rallied in the chaotic capital Bangkok yesterday, according to an estimate from National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut. Organizers said the turnout was much higher.
Hundreds surrounded a stadium in Bangkok today where representatives of political parties were trying to register to run in the polls ahead of the December 27 deadline.
Nine parties managed to enter although officials were unable to fully complete their registration, Election Commission official Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said at a news conference.
He said about two dozen parties filed complaints with the police.
Representatives of Yingluck's Puea Thai party managed to get inside the stadium in the early morning before it was sealed off by protesters, party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said.
He said Yingluck was on top of the party's list of candidates – a position that would usually make her Puea Thai's pick for prime minister if it wins the polls.
Her candidacy is certain to anger the demonstrators, who want to rid Thai politics of the influence of her brother Thaksin.
The demonstrators' self-proclaimed People's Democratic Reform Committee is calling for an unelected “people's council'' to be installed to oversee sweeping but loosely-defined reforms before new elections in around a year to 18 months.
They have vowed to rid Thailand of the “Thaksin regime'' and oppose the election, saying it will only bring another government allied to the former premier, who fled the country in 2008 to avoid jail for a corruption conviction he contends is politically motivated.
The protesters have appealed for the support of the army, but the military has indicated it will not step in directly at this stage, in a country which has seen 18 successful or attempted coups since 1932.
Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2001 and Thailand has seen several bouts of political turmoil since he was deposed, with rival protests sometimes resulting in bloody unrest.