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Thai poll body calls for election delay after new unrest

Posted: 14 May 2014 11:12 PM PDT

BANGKOK: Thailand's Election Commission on Thursday called for the postponement of key parliamentary polls due to be held on July 20 because of political unrest shaking the kingdom.

The appeal came after an attack on an anti-government rally in Bangkok the same day that left three dead.

Hours later opposition demonstrators stormed a meeting between the government and vote officials, forcing caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan and other ministers to flee.

"The election on July 20 is no longer possible. It must be postponed," Election Commission secretary general Puchong Nutrawong told AFP.

"The reason is because today's meeting collapsed and it affects the election timetable," Puchong said.
He said early August was one option for the polls but "may be too soon".

"The election cannot be held if protesters do not agree," Puchong added.

The dismissal of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office last week in a controversial court ruling has sent tensions soaring in the Southeast Asian nation, which has endured years of political turmoil.

Yingluck's supporters have accused the Election Commission of conspiring with the anti-government movement and parts of the judiciary to prevent her party's return to power.

Grenade blasts and gunfire at an anti-government protest site in Bangkok early Thursday left three dead and 23 wounded, stoking fears of wider political violence in the crisis-hit kingdom.

The attack comes as opposition protesters push for the appointment of an unelected premier in a move that has infuriated government supporters.

An election held in February was later annulled after demonstrators blocked voting in many areas.
The opposition refuses to take part in elections unless reforms are held first to tackle what it says is widespread corruption and cronyism.

Thailand has been torn apart by political divisions since 2006 when Yingluck's older brother Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup after frictions with the country's royalist establishment.

Thaksin-led or aligned parties have won every election since 2001, but have also seen four premiers removed by coups or court rulings. - AFP

Malala portrait goes for $102,500 in New York

Posted: 14 May 2014 04:50 PM PDT

NEW YORK: A painted portrait of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban, fetched $102,500 at auction Wednesday in New York - with the money going to female education in Nigeria.

The proceeds will be donated from her Malala Fund to a special fund designed to assist local NGOs working to educate girls and women in Nigeria, where more than 200 schoolgirls are missing after being snatched at gun point last month by extremists.

Auction house Christie's had estimated the portrait of the veiled teenager - done in 2013 by leading British artist Jonathan Yeo - would fetch $60,000-$80,000.

But after several bids it was snapped up in just a few minutes at a higher price.

Malala, now 16, was shot by a Taliban gunman in 2012 over her outspoken views on education for girls in her home region of northwest Pakistan. After undergoing extensive medical treatment, she now lives in Britain. - AFP


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