Bangkok: Thailand’s Constitutional Court today annulled last month’s controversial snap poll, dealing a setback to embattled Premier Yingluck Shinawatra and deepening the political uncertainty in the country.
In a 6-3 vote, the court ruled that the February 2 election was unlawful because it could not be completed in one day.
The court said that the election violated an article of the Constitution which requires completion of the poll in a single day. As no candidates stood in 28 constituencies in eight southern provinces, the election could not be completed on February 2.
The court ordered the Election Commission to consult with the government on a new election date.
The snap poll was called by Yingluck amid major anti-government protests in Bangkok.
Shinawatra’s ruling Pheu Thai Party was expected to win, but the opposition boycotted it and protesters disrupted voting. They had also disrupted registration of candidates which led to no candidates contesting in many places.
The judges heard evidence from Ombudsman Pornphet Wichitcholchai, caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana, who testified on Prime Minister Yingluck’s behalf, and Election Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen.
Thailand has been in a political crisis since mass rallies began in November. The protesters are demanding an un-elected People’s Council to replace the Yingluck regime.
The protesters accuse Yingluck of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup in 2006. He lives in self-exile in Dubai to escape a jail term on a corruption conviction.
Reacting to the verdict, Thailand’s anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which has been leading anti-government protests, said it would continue demanding national reform prior to an election.
Thaworn Senneam, a top PDRC leader, said their ultimate goal was national reform after which the new election would be held.
He said he would lodge a complaint with the Election Commission against Prime Minister’s party for illegally using the state-run Channel 11 for its political campaign.
He claimed the caretaker government was approaching a dead-end and the only solution for Thailand was national reform before holding a new election.
Even if a new poll goes smoothly, Yingluck faces several legal challenges that could force her from office. She is facing charges of negligence over a government rice subsidy scheme.