In a desperate attempt to quell protests in her country, Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra proposed the formation of a “reform council” to address concerns of corruption and political reforms demanded by the opposition.
Weeks of mass protests in Thailand’s capital have prompted the move by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The body would be “set up in parallel” with the February 2 snap polls and would closely monitor the elections.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has assured voters that her government has been listening to protester’s demands, and that the government will implement reforms and mechanisms to prevent abuse of power.
“My government has listened to suggestions of several sides from the several forums and agrees that reforms are needed in the social, economic and political dimensions.” said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a statement earlier this week.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that her government would have no influence over the independent council, and would look only to help facilitate the council’s process in addressing the legitimate concerns of voters.
Still, many protesters are not buying it, saying that the Prime Minister isn’t sincere about her proposed reforms.
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has declared an immovable position on behalf of voters, vowing to “destroy the Thaksin regime,” and that new elections won’t solve the issue, but only install another Thaksin controlled government.
Thaksin Shinawatra is Thailand’s ousted billionaire ex-premier, as well as Yingluck’s brother. The close ties to the now exiled leader have led many in Thailand to believe that the ousted Thaksin is still controlling the government in exile.
Suthep Thaugsuban and protesters have stepped up the tension by committing themselves to blockade sites where Thailand’s election commission is set to register party applicants.
Protesters descended on Yingluck’s suburban house, blowing whistles and waving the country’s flag, chanting “Yingluck get out!”
As leader of the opposition, Suthep Thaugsuban is looking to throw his hat in the ring, saying he will run against the “Thaksin dynasty”. Analysts have found that Suthep is supported by “powerful behind the scenes forces” which have been responsible for over 18 coups in Thailand since 1932.
The poll boycott is the latest blow to an already fragile democratic nation. The Democrat party, which has thrown their support behind the former deputy prime minister of the party Suthep, have signed onto the boycott.
The military coup which ousted Thaksin in 2006 was the result of a similar poll boycott, and analysts say the current situation could result in another military coup, replacing one despised figure with another.
While Thailand grapples with the ongoing struggle for democratic rights, poor rural farmers and the working class say that no party in recent history have addressed their grievances. A large demographic of the population, they have been underrepresented by business-sympathetic leaders like Thaksin and Yingluck.
Despite growing pressure, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says she will not step down, and will continue as interim Prime Minister until the February 2 polls.
Meanwhile Thailand’s Election Commission issued a statement urging the government to delay the scheduled February 2nd polls following violent clampdowns on protests and the continued political instability.
Demonstrators maintain that they will not stop until Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra steps down, and elections free of her influence are held. Thailand’s instability has worried observers that say that the following month before these elections could be an extremely tumultuous one.
By John Amaruso