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Speculation ends, election prep begins in Thailand

Elections demanded by anti-government "red shirt" protesters coming soon
Winn bkk riots 2011 03 15Enlarge
Thai soldiers clear out anti-government protesters' core Bangkok encampment in May 2010. (Getty Images/Getty Images)

Nearly a year after Thailand's anti-government protesters staged raucous rallies for new elections, a fresh round of voting is finally nigh.

Thailand's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, says he'll dissolve parliament to hold a general election by late June.

This will be no typical election. This voting process bears tremendous baggage, namely the 91 left dead in last year's protests. The ruling party has played up the threat of more violence and blamed delayed elections largely on security concerns. 

One of Thailand's most respected analysts warned the Financial Times that "campaigning will see some violence, maybe some assassinations or attempted assassinations." He didn't speculate who might attack who.

A more optimistic view is that this represents Thailand's opportunity to prove it can hold an election free of violence and meddling. And, more importantly, honor the results.

On Monday, Mar. 21, I'll have a chance to join other foreign correspondents here in Bangkok for a rare Q&A with the prime minister. My plan is to hear more about the PM's plans to hold power, pair that with his rivals' view, and present a fuller view of Thailand's coming elections next week.

After all we've seen, I don't think it's hyperbole to say Thailand's reputation as a functioning democracy is at stake.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/speculation-ends-election-prep-begins-thailand

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