Re-run elections held in 5 Thailand provinces after disruptions last month

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 March, 2014, 3:13am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 March, 2014, 5:35pm

Thailand held re-run elections in five provinces where voting was disrupted in last month's poll by anti-government protesters who decamped from a main Bangkok intersection and moved inside a central park.

There were no reports of violence at yesterday's vote, although gunfire and at least two explosions had raised tension in Bangkok before the original February 2 general election.

Watch: Thailand election re-runs pass peacefully

Whatever the result, the vote alone cannot restore stability in a polarised country popular with tourists and investors yet blighted by eight years of political turmoil.

The protesters, seeking to unseat Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, gathered in central Lumpini Park, where hundreds already sleep in tents alongside boating lakes and under trees, after protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said they would abandon other sites in the city.

Anti-government posters saying "Get out!" and "Stop cheating farmers!", a reference to a failed rice subsidy scheme, were blown around amid dust and abandoned Suthep cutouts as traffic began to ease its way through the intersection on the edge of the Silom financial district.

Another protest site was dismantled, with stages, huge screens, giant speakers and amplifiers, tents, stalls and mobile toilets cleared away overnight, but the elevated highway along the south side of Lumpini Park was still blocked by tyres and sandbags.

Voting was disrupted on February 2 in 18 per cent of constituencies nationwide, the Election Commission said.

The election is almost certain to return Yingluck to power, thanks to her support base in the largely rural north and northeast.