BANGKOK — Hundreds of anti-government protesters are demonstrating outside the hotel where representatives of various political parties are meeting for a talk on Thailand's future election.
The meeting was organised by the Election Commission (EC) to discuss details of the country’s next election, following the Constitutional Court's invalidation of the previous general election on 2 February.
More than 60 political parties were invited to the forum, held at Miracle Grand Hotel in Laksi district, including the ruling Pheu Thai Party and the opposition Democrat Party, which boycotted the previous election.
Democrat Party chairman Abhisit Vejjajiva declined to attend the meeting at the last minute, citing security concerns.
Despite orders from the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), the EC did not broadcast the meeting live on state-owned television channels 9, 11, and Thai PBS.
Secretary-general of the EC Mr. Puchong Nutrawong explained that the EC has never allowed the media to broadcast EC-held public meeting that concern elections.
Mr. Puchong said a live broadcast of the event may inflame the already delicate situation, as the meeting will certainly involve heated exchanges between party representatives.
"I think it will be more negative than positive," the EC sec-gen told reporters, adding that the EC has already eased its regulation by allowing journalists to be present at the meeting.
When asked whether the decision not to broadcast the meeting can be seen as a "slap" to CAPO, Mr. Puchong replied that all EC activities must be decided solely by the EC, and denied that the gesture is hostile towards the government in any way.
Mr. Puchong also asked the party representatives not to bring any firearms into the forum.
"Pen and notebook are enough," Mr. Puchong said.
Shortly after the meeting began, a large motorised convoy of protesters led by the People's Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD) arrived at the hotel and proceeded to block some sections of Kampaengpetch Road to voice their opposition to the plan for another election.
PCAD has insisted that an unelected "People's Council" be established to implement series of reforms before any election is held.
The PCAD protesters were led by the Buddhist activist monk, Buddha Issara.
At the hotel, Mr. Puchong allowed PCAD activists to enter the meeting hall and hang banners bearing anti-election slogans.
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