Bomb explodes on Thai vote day

A bomb exploded in Bangkok on Sunday, wounding at least 10 people, as a ruling party candidate narrowly beat a jailed opposition leader in a by-election.

Bomb explodes on Thai vote day

A bomb exploded in Bangkok on Sunday, wounding at least 10 people, as a ruling party candidate narrowly beat a jailed opposition leader in a by-election.

The bomb had been hidden near a trash bin at a bus stop in the heart of the commercial district on Ratchadumri Road, an area occupied by thousands of "red shirt" opposition protesters for several weeks until an army crackdown on May 19.

There was no indication of who had planted it or why.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said at least 10 people had been wounded.

The blast took place shortly after polls closed in the first electoral test since the army crackdown that ended opposition protests in April and May in which at least 89 people were killed and nearly 1,400 wounded.

Candidate in jail


The opposition candidate in the by-election, Korkaew Pikulthong, has been jailed since May for allegedly encouraging violence, a charge he denies. He campaigned from prison, saying he had public sympathy for being held without bail.

Korkaew, whose Puea Thai Party is closely allied with self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, faced Panich Wikisreth, a member of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's ruling Democrat Party and a former deputy Bangkok mayor.

Panich won with 96,480 votes, according to unofficial early results. Korkaew came in second with 81,776.

The ruling Democrats are likely to play the results up as a symbolic victory that shows Bangkok's 15 million people generally back Abhisit's tough measures, said Karn Yuenyong, director of the independent Siam Intelligence Unit.

A state of emergency allows authorities to detain opponents without charge, censor the press, ban gatherings and freeze bank accounts.

But the district often votes differently from other areas of Bangkok.

"The result is no indication the Democrats are going to win the next general election," said Siripan Nogsuan, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University. But the Democrats will try to use it to build political momentum, he added.

Winning the seat makes little difference to Abhisit's fractious six-party coalition, which has a 75-seat majority in the 480-seat parliament.

The vote was the first in Bangkok since troops forcibly dispersed thousands of protesters on May 19 in an operation that sparked deadly rioting.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2010, 17:03

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