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Thailand constitutional court rejects bid to annul election

Thailand's Constitutional Court [official website] on Wednesday rejected petitions filed by both the ruling and opposition parties accusing each other of attempting to overthrow the country's government during recent elections. The court cited insufficient grounds [BBC report] for either claim brought by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's ruling Pheu Thai Party [party website, in Thai] or the opposition Democrat Party [party website, in Thai]. The Democrat Party argued that the poll violated the country's constitution for several reasons, including that it was not completed in one day. The opposition party's petition [JURIST report] also sought the dissolution of the ruling party and to ban party executives from holding political office for five years. The Pheu Thai Party dismissed the argument as circular, and blamed the delay on opposition demonstrations that blocked polling stations. The court found that the demonstrations were legal under the constitutional right to protest, and that any actions against the opposition party should be taken under relevant criminal law statutes.

Thailand has been fraught with political instability since the 2006 military coup [JURIST op-ed]. In the days leading up to the elections an anti-government protest leader was shot and killed [JURIST report] during demonstrations blocking a voting station. The shooting came just five days after the Thai government declared [JURIST report] a 60-day state of emergency, granting it broad powers to curtail the political unrest, including the ability to censor media, impose a curfew and detain suspects without charges. These powers are in addition to those granted in November when the prime minister invoked [JURIST report] a special security law known as the Internal Security Act, which conferred broader powers on police forces attempting to contain the protests. Just days later protesters stormed [JURIST report] the army's headquarters in Bangkok, seeking assistance in overthrowing the government.

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