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Thailand opposition party petitions court to annul election

Thailand's Democrat party, the country's main opposition political party, petitioned the Thai Constitutional Court [official website, English] Tuesday to annul the results of last week's national elections, alleging that the polls were unconstitutional. The petition also seeks [AFP report] the dissolution of the ruling party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra [BBC profile] and to ban party executives from holding political office for five years. Yingluck called Sunday's elections an attempt to diffuse some of the nation's political tension, but the opposition urged a boycott of the vote. The petition alleges the elections were unconstitutional on several grounds, primarily because they were not completed in one day. Critics of the opposition have dismissed [Al Jazeera report] the argument as circular, claiming that the delays causing the polls not to be completed in a single day were a result of the opposition's protest efforts, not by fault of the government. The opposition demands [Bloomberg report] that Yingluck step down, referring to her as a "puppet" of her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a 2006 coup. Other demands include the imposition of an unelected "People's Council" to enact reforms before new elections. So far Yingluck has refused to step down, saying that she was elected by a large majority and that the council suggested by the opposition would be undemocratic.

Thailand has been fraught with political instability since the 2006 military coup, [JURIST op-ed]. On January 26, leading up to Sunday's 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 2013 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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