12:00 AM, May 01, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Thailand heads for new polls

Thailand heads for new polls

Afp, Bangkok

Thailand yesterday set new elections for July 20 to try to end a deadly six-month political crisis, even as legal challenges threaten to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of office.
The nation, riven by years of political unrest, has been without a properly functioning government since December, causing policy paralysis that has sapped the strength of its once-buoyant economy.
Yingluck is pinning her hopes on re-election to shore up her legitimacy following months of mass street protests seeking her resignation to make way for an unelected "neutral" prime minister to implement anti-corruption reforms.
A general election in February was voided after demonstrators disrupted voting.
The backdrop is an eight-year struggle between a royalist establishment -- backed by parts of the judiciary and the military -- and Yingluck's billionaire family, which has traditionally enjoyed strong support in northern Thailand.
Twenty-five people have been killed and hundreds wounded, including many anti-government protesters, in grenade attacks and shootings in recent months.
Whether Yingluck's name will be on the ballot papers on July 20 remains unclear as she faces two legal cases that could see her suspended from office and banned from politics within weeks.
The Election Commission (EC), which agreed on the July 20 poll date in talks with Yingluck, has been accused by government supporters of siding with the opposition.


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