1 Feb 2014

Thai election set to go ahead

9:43 pm on 1 February 2014

A court in Thailand has refused to halt Sunday's general election which is set to go ahead despite large anti-government protests.

The opposition party is boycotting the election.

Thai anti-government protesters at a rally  in Bangkok on Saturday.

Thai anti-government protesters at a rally in Bangkok on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Thailand's civil court refused a last ditch attempt by anti-government protesters to halt the vote, that means the disputed election will go ahead on Sunday despite concerns of an outbreak of violence in Bangkok, the centre of anti-government demonstrations.

The ABC reports that thousands of protesters have occupied key intersections in the city and they are demanding sweeping political reforms before the vote takes place.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has called for a peaceful blockade of roads in the city, but at the same time, vowed not to stop people from voting.

More than 93,000 polling stations will be set up around the country on Sunday.

The protesters forced polling stations in 49 of 50 districts in Bangkok to shut last weekend and early voting could only go ahead in three of 15 southern provinces.

The commission, which wanted to postpone the vote because of the volatility, says it had authority to order troops and police to help ensure the election takes place.

The BBC reports that the protests began in November, after the lower house backed a controversial amnesty bill that critics said would allow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, to return.

Mr Thaksin was ousted as prime minister by the military in a 2006 coup. He was convicted in absentia of corruption and lives overseas, but the protesters say he controls Ms Yingluck's government.

They also accuse her Pheu Thai party and its Thaksin-allied predecessors - which have won the last five elections - of misusing state funds on ill-judged schemes that win rural votes.

The protesters say they want Thailand's political system reformed and an end to money politics.

Ms Yingluck, however, who leads an elected government that enjoys strong support in rural areas, has asked protesters to respect Thailand's democratic principles.