A meeting between Thailand’s interim prime minister and the Election Commission to fix a date for polls has been postponed due to security concern over the venue for the discussions. “The government has asked to delay the meeting due to security concerns over the venue location,” Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn told reporters on Wednesday. “We will meet with the government tomorrow at a different venue.” Somchai did not elaborate but the talks were planned at a government complex in north Bangkok near an anti-government protest site occupied by demonstrators. Government spokesmen were not available for comment. Fixing the date for the polls is the latest round in a six-month political crisis punctuated with sporadic violence in the streets of Bangkok, leaving 25 people dead and threatening to tip the economy into recession, even raising fears of civil war. While the government sees the polls as the best way out of the country’s protracted crisis, the option has been met with staunch rejection by opponents. Protesters, who have set up base inside a wing of the largely abandoned government headquarters, are holding a news conferences for the international media from there, in a sign of defiance to the wounded administration, the AFP news agency reported.
They are now counting on the upper house of parliament to complete the task of ending the political dominance of the billionaire Shinawatra family, after the Constitutional Court threw Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and nine of her cabinet ministers, out of office last week for abuse of power.
The opposition wants the Senate to invoke Article 7 of the constitution and seek the king’s blessing for the appointment of a “neutral” premier to replace caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who was picked by the remainder of Yingluck’s cabinet.
The crisis is the latest phase in nearly 10 years of hostility – punctuated by a coup and court rulings – between the royalist establishment and Thaksin Shinawatra, a former telecommunications billionaire who won huge support among the rural and urban poor, but angered the Bangkok-based elite and was deposed by the military in a 2006 coup.