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Surrogacy campaigners call for clearer regulation after a surrogate mother in Thailand was left with a Down’s syndrome baby when his Australian parents refused to take him.

The boy, whose twin sister was taken to Australia by the unidentified couple, needs urgent medical care.

The surrogate mother in Thailand says she will raise the boy as her own and an online campaign has raised $185,000 for his treatment.

The case has raised fears Australia could ban international surrogacy.

The baby boy, named Gammy, has a congenital heart condition and a lung infection as well as Down’s syndrome. He is currently receiving urgent treatment in a Thai hospital.

Gammy has a congenital heart condition and a lung infection as well as Down's syndrome

Gammy has a congenital heart condition and a lung infection as well as Down’s syndrome (photo ABC)

Pattaramon Chanbua was paid $15,000 to be a surrogate mother for the Australian couple.

The couple asked Pattaramon Chanbua to have an abortion after doctors informed her of the child’s condition four months after becoming pregnant. She refused, saying it was against her Buddhist beliefs.

Australian PM Tony Abbott said it was “an incredibly sad story” and illustrated “some of the pitfalls involved in this particular business”.

It is illegal to pay for surrogacy in Australia so couples have to find a surrogate who is happy to carry the child for no payment beyond medical and other reasonable expenses.

Advocacy group Surrogacy Australia said this “red tape” means many couples choose to go abroad to find a surrogate, with 400 or 500 each year venturing to India, Thailand, the US and other places.

Rachel Kunde, the group’s executive director, said she hoped the case would lead to better regulation by the Australian authorities of international surrogacy, rather than an outright ban.

“Our greatest fear is that Australia is going to ban international surrogacy altogether,” she said.

“We are hoping that the government will make accessing surrogates in Australia easier.”

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Thailand’s ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra has received approval to travel abroad for the first time since the military coup.

A military spokesman said the request had been approved because Yingluck Shinawatra had “kept a low profile” since her government was overthrown on May 22.

Reports suggest Yingluck Shinawatra will travel to France for the birthday of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted ahead of the military coup by Thailand’s Constitutional Court

Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted ahead of the military coup by Thailand’s Constitutional Court

The military seized power after months of anti-government protests in Bangkok.

Thaksin Shianwatra, who turns 65 on July 26, was ousted in a coup in 2006.

He was removed by the military, kicking off a cycle of political instability in Thailand. Convicted of corruption by a Thai court, he has been living in self-imposed exile overseas.

Yingluck Shianwatra had asked to travel to Europe from July 20 to August 10, the military said.

They agreed because she had not “violated any orders of the NCPO [military junta] or any agreements, being the ban from politics or the ban on overseas travels” and had “given good co-operation all along”, spokesman Col. Winthai Suvaree told a press conference.

At least 28 people died in the anti-government protests that brought Yingluck Shinawatra’s government down.

Yingluck Shinawatra herself was ousted ahead of the coup by a Constitutional Court ruling that said she had illegally transferred her national security head. She is currently facing charges linked to a controversial government rice subsidy scheme.

The Thai army announces it has now released 124 people, including politicians and activists, who were taken into custody after the coup.

A military spokesman said a total of 253 people had been summoned. Fifty-three did not report and 76 were in custody.

Conditions for the release appear to include agreeing to avoid political activity and informing the army of travel.

Coup leaders, who took power last week, received royal endorsement on Monday.

Thailand’s former PM Yingluck Shinawatra has been released but remains under some restrictions.

Yingluck Shinawatra has been released by Thailand’s army but remains under some restrictions

Yingluck Shinawatra has been released by Thailand’s army but remains under some restrictions (photo Reuters)

Aside from politicians and activists, academics have also been detained.

Thailand’s army seized power on May 22, saying it wanted to return stability to the country after months of unrest.

Leaders of the anti-government movement have been released from custody but representatives of those who support the government remain in detention.

Correspondents say there is also a degree of skepticism about the total number of people in custody, with reports of more widespread detentions.

Rights groups have expressed alarm over the detentions, as well as the tight restrictions on media.

Television stations on Wednesday aired footage from the military showing five detainees, including pro-government “red-shirt” leader Jatuporn Prompan, at an unidentified location, in an apparent move to show they were being treated well.

Experts have said that the coup is unlikely to heal highly polarized political divisions in the country.

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Thai army has detained former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng who emerged from hiding to criticize last week’s coup.

Shortly before he was held, Chaturon Chaisaeng said he believed the coup would be a disaster for Thailand.

However, Chaturon Chaisaeng said he had no intention of going underground or mobilizing resistance.

Thai army has detained former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng who emerged from hiding to criticize last week's coup

Thai army has detained former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng who emerged from hiding to criticize last week’s coup

On Monday the coup leaders consolidated their legal hold on the country after receiving the endorsement of the king.

The military seized power in Thailand last week, saying it planned to return stability to the country after months of unrest.

The move followed six months of political deadlock as protesters tried to oust the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. At least 28 people were killed and several hundred injured over the course of the protests.

However, the Thai coup – which removed an elected government – has drawn widespread international criticism.

Chaturon Chaisaeng is one of more than 100 opposition figures, academics and activists summoned to report to the military after the coup.

Many of those who have chosen, unlike Chaturon Chaisaeng, to report voluntarily are still in military custody.

Chaturon Chaisaeng was detained in front of journalists at Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club where he had emerged from five days of hiding to give a press briefing.

Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra was among those taken into custody after the coup but a military spokesman told AFP news agency she had now been released.

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Ousted Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra and a number of family members and politicians have been detained, as leaders of Thursday’s military coup tightened their grip on power.

Yingluck Shinawatra and scores of politicians from the deposed government had earlier been ordered to report to the military.

She was kept for several hours and then driven to an undisclosed location.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha also met key officials, telling them reform must come before any elections.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha summoned governors, business leaders and civil servants to the Bangkok Army Club on Friday.

Ousted Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra and a number of family members and politicians have been detained, as leaders of Thursday's military coup tightened their grip on power

Ousted Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra and a number of family members and politicians have been detained, as leaders of Thursday’s military coup tightened their grip on power (photo Reuters)

Six of Thailand’s most senior military officers have now been appointed to run the country, with provincial commanders supervising local government.

Prayuth Chan-ocha told the meeting: “I want all civil servants to help organize the country. We must have economic, social and political reforms before elections. If the situation is peaceful, we are ready to return power to the people.”

The general said the coup was necessary to “quickly bring the situation back to normal”.

One local official leaving the meeting, Arkom Theerasak, told Associated Press: “There will be an election but it will take a while. The general didn’t say when.”

Yingluck Shinawatra, who had been prime minister until being removed by the judiciary this month, had been ordered to report to the military along with more than 100 other politicians, including acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan.

It was unclear whether Prayuth Chan-ocha met either of them.

Some 155 politicians have been barred from leaving the country.

Reuters quoted a military officer as saying Yingluck Shinawatra, her sister and brother-in-law had been held.

Thai military spokesman Col. Werachon Sukhondhadhpatipak said those detained were all involved in Thailand’s political “conflict” and he stressed the army was neutral and impartial in those that it had held.

Col. Werachon Sukhondhadhpatipak said the detentions should be not be longer than a week and were intended to keep the detainees away from “tension”.

On Thursday the military suspended the constitution and banned political gatherings, saying order was needed after months of turmoil.

The US led widespread international criticism of the coup, saying there was “no justification”.

Thailand’s armed forces have staged at least 12 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

There has been a power struggle since Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as PM in 2006.

Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra have strong support in rural areas but are opposed by many in the middle class and urban elite.

The latest unrest began last year, when anti-government protesters embarked on a campaign to oust Yingluck Shinawatra. An election was held in February but was disrupted and later annulled by the judiciary.

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Thailand’s military has taken control of the government to restore order and enact political reforms in the South-East Asian nation, the army chief has announced in a televised statement.

The coup came after two days of inconclusive talks between the main political factions.

Thailand has been in political turmoil for months. On Tuesday the army imposed martial law.

A curfew has now been declared, effective across the country from 22:00 to 05:00 local time.

Thailand's military has taken control of the government to restore order and enact political reforms

Thailand’s military has taken control of the government to restore order and enact political reforms

Political party leaders were taken away from the talks venue after troops sealed off the area.

The army is to send troops and vehicles to escort protesters away from rally sites, a senior army official told the Reuters news agency.

The latest unrest began in the Thai capital late last year, when then-PM Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the lower house of parliament.

Demonstrators have blockaded several areas of Bangkok for months.

Earlier this month, a court ordered Yingluck Shinawatra’s removal for alleged abuse of power.

Thailand has faced a power struggle since Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as prime minister in 2006.

Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra have strong support in rural areas and among poorer voters.

They are hated by an urban and middle-class elite who accuse them of corruption and abuse of power.

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Thailand’s army has imposed martial law amid a political crisis “to preserve law and order”.

The surprise announcement also granted the army wide-ranging powers to enforce its decision.

The military insisted that its assumption of responsibility for national security was not a coup.

Martial law comes amid a long-running political crisis, and months of escalating tensions between the government and the opposition.

Correspondents say the move could enrage supporters of the government, especially if it is seen as amounting to a coup. The army has staged at least 11 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

Roads in the capital, Bangkok, have been blocked off by tanks.

Thailand’s army has imposed martial law amid a political crisis to preserve law and order

Thailand’s army has imposed martial law amid a political crisis to preserve law and order

The military has taken over TV and radio stations, and ordered media censorship in the interests of “national security”.

Soldiers have also moved into the main government building, which has been unoccupied following months of violent demonstrations by opponents who want to be rid of an administration they say is corrupt.

Both pro and anti-government protesters have been told not to march anywhere in order to prevent clashes.

An announcement on military-run TV said martial law had been imposed “to restore peace and order for people from all sides”.

“The public do not need to panic but can still live their lives as normal,” it said.

The military statement was signed by army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha, citing a 1914 law that allows it to intervene during times of crisis.

The chief security advisor to the interim prime minister said the government had not been consulted about the army’s decision, but says it remains in office.

“Everything is normal except the military is responsible for all national security issues,” said Paradorn Pattanatabut.

An army spokesman also insisted the imposition of martial law would have no impact on the caretaker government.

Observers say the deadlock in south-east Asia’s second-largest economy has got worse since Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the lower house of parliament in December, and a court ordered her removal earlier this month for abuse of power.

On Monday, acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan insisted his government would not resign, resisting pressure from anti-government protesters.

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Three people died and more than 20 others have been injured in an attack on an anti-government protest camp in Bangkok, Thai officials say.

Witnesses reported explosions and gunfire early on Thursday at a protest camp at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument.

Protesters have been pressing the Senate to replace the cabinet with an appointed administration.

Witnesses reported explosions and gunfire early on Thursday at a protest camp at Bangkok's Democracy Monument

Witnesses reported explosions and gunfire early on Thursday at a protest camp at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument

Later on Thursday, they forced a meeting between the government and the Election Commission to be abandoned.

The government is trying to organize a new general election in July, after protesters disrupted the previous election in parts of the country.

A crowd led by Suthep Thaugsuban, head of the anti-government movement, broke into the Air Force base where the meeting between acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan and the commission was being held.

“The meeting is over, the prime minister is leaving. We cannot continue today,” a member of the commission was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

The Election Commission on Thursday has called for polls to be postponed due to the political unrest, AFP news agency says, citing officials.

The attack on protesters comes days after former PM Yingluck Shinawatra was removed by a Thai court.

Reports said grenades were thrown in the latest attack in the early hours of Thursday, followed by gunfire. A doctor at an emergency centre in Bangkok said the wounded had been hit by shrapnel.

Police identified two of the victims as a protester who was asleep and a protest guard who was shot.

There have been a number of attacks on the protest movement since it began its street campaign against the government last year.

No group has said it carried out the attack but both pro- and anti-government groups are known to have armed hardliners.

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Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra’s government are gathering in western Bangkok for what they are calling a rally in support of Thailand’s democracy.

Earlier this week, a court ordered PM Yingluck Shinawatra and nine ministers to step down.

Thousands of police are on standby as opposition protesters are also planning a march in the capital.

Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra’s government are gathering in western Bangkok for what they are calling a rally in support of Thailand’s democracy

Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra’s government are gathering in western Bangkok for what they are calling a rally in support of Thailand’s democracy (photo AP)

Yingluck Shianwatra’s removal came after six months of protests which have unnerved investors and reduced tourist numbers.

Thailand has faced a power struggle since 2006, when Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted as prime minister by a military coup, accused of corruption and abuse of power.

Their Pheu Thai party has a strong base of support with rural voters. Its supporters are known colloquially as “red shirts”.

Opposition supporters – dubbed “yellow shirts” – tend to be urban and middle class. They have been protesting against Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration for six months, occupying official buildings and disrupting elections in February.

Yingluck Shinawatra was ordered to step down on Wednesday over the illegal transfer of her security chief. Another court has indicted her for negligence.

A caretaker government led by Thaksin Shianwatra loyalist Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan is running the country and says it is working towards a July 20 election.

The opposition says it will not contest the polls and that political reforms must be introduced first.

On Friday, a rally of “yellow shirts” ended with police firing tear gas and water cannon. At least five demonstrators were injured.

At least 25 people have died over the course of the protests in Thailand.

Thai anti-graft body has indicted ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra over a controversial rice subsidy scheme.

The case will now be voted on at the Senate. If impeached, Yingluck Shinawatra will be barred from politics for five years.

On Wednesday, a Thai court ordered Yingluck Shinawatra and several cabinet ministers to step down over separate charges.

Thailand has been in political turmoil since anti-government protests erupted in November 2013. In February, snap elections were annulled.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) unanimously voted to indict Yingluck Shinawatra, the commission’s chief said on Thursday.

“The committee has investigated and there is enough evidence to make a case … We will now forward it to the Senate,” Panthep Klanarong said.

Thai anti-graft body has indicted ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra over a controversial rice subsidy scheme

Thai anti-graft body has indicted ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra over a controversial rice subsidy scheme

The NACC is also considering whether to file criminal charges against Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck Shinawatra has previously said she was only in charge of formulating the policy, not the day-to-day running of the scheme, and has said that the commission treated her unfairly.

Under the rice subsidy scheme, the government bought rice from Thai farmers at a much higher price than on the global market.

However, it resulted in the accumulation of huge stockpiles of rice and hit Thailand’s rice exports hard.

Critics said the scheme was too expensive and vulnerable to corruption.

Separately, on Wednesday, Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled that Yingluck Shinawatra acted illegally when she transferred her national security head to another position in 2011.

Yingluck Shinawatra stepped down, and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan replaced her as prime minister.

Her supporters believe the courts are biased against her.

Yingluck Shinawatra leads the ruling Pheu Thai Party, which won elections in 2011.

It commands strong support from rural voters, especially in Thailand’s north and north-east.

However, anti-government protesters, who tend to be urban and middle-class voters, have protested against Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration for months, occupying official buildings and disrupting elections in February.

They say ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who is also Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, is still controlling the government, and that the ruling party has been buying votes with irresponsible spending pledges aimed at its support base.

Both sides have planned rallies this week, and there are fears that clashes could occur.

Thailand’s government has scheduled elections for July 20 after the February vote was declared unconstitutional.

However, the opposition says it will not contest the polls and that political reforms need to be introduced first.

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Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled that PM Yingluck Shinawatra must step down over abuse of power charges.

The court ruled that Yingluck Shinawatra acted illegally when she transferred her national security head.

It has also ruled that some cabinet ministers involved in the transfer must also step down.

The ruling follows months of political deadlock. Anti-government protesters have been trying to oust Yingluck Shinawatra since November 2013.

Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled that PM Yingluck Shinawatra must step down over abuse of power charges

Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled that PM Yingluck Shinawatra must step down over abuse of power charges (photo Reuters)

The move is likely to trigger protests by supporters of the government, which remains very popular in rural areas.

PM Yingluck Shinawatra had been accused of improperly transferring Thawil Pliensri, her national security chief appointed by the opposition-led administration, in 2011.

Appearing court on Tuesday, she had rejected the suggestion that Yingluck Shinawatra’s party had benefited from the move – but the court ruled against her.

“The prime minister’s status has ended, Yingluck can no longer stay in her position acting as caretaker prime minister,” a judge said in a statement.

It is not yet clear whether one of Yingluck Shinawatra’s ministers can step in or whether Thailand now faces a political vacuum.

Anti-government protests began in the Thai capital late last year, with demonstrators blockading several parts of the city.

In response, Yingluck Shinawatra called a snap general election in February that her party was widely expected to win. But the protesters disrupted the polls and the election was later annulled.

Her supporters believe that the courts are biased against her and side with the urban elite at the heart of the protest movement.

Thailand has faced a power struggle since Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as prime minister in a 2006 coup.

Thaksin Shinawatra and his family are hated by the urban and middle-class elite who accuse them of corruption and abuse of power.

Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has appeared before the Constitutional Court in Bangkok to defend herself against allegations of abuse of power.

The complaint was filed by senators who said Yingluck Shinawatra’s party benefited from improperly transferring her national security chief in 2011.

Yingluck Shinawatra could be removed from office and banned from politics for five years if found guilty.

Thailand has seen deadlock since anti-government protests began in 2013.

Yingluck Shinawatra could be removed from office and banned from politics for five years if found guilty of abuse of power

Yingluck Shinawatra could be removed from office and banned from politics for five years if found guilty of abuse of power

The protesters, who are mainly urban and middle class, want Yingluck Shianwatra’s government replaced by an unelected “people’s council”.

In response, Yingluck Shinawatra called a snap election in February which she was expected to win, but this was disrupted by the protesters and subsequently annulled.

The prime minister is also facing several legal challenges.

Earlier this year, a different court ruled that Yingluck Shinawatra had improperly transferred national security chief Thawil Pliensri in 2011.

Thawil Pliensri has since been reinstated, although he was originally appointed by the previous administration and has been openly critical of Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.

The Constitutional Court will decide whether his transfer violated the constitution.

“I deny the allegation… I didn’t violate any laws, I didn’t receive any benefit from the appointment,” Yingluck Shinawatra told the court on Tuesday.

She added that replacing Thawil Pliensri was for Thailand’s benefit.

Yingluck Shinawatra also faces charges of negligence over a government rice subsidy scheme which critics say was rife with corruption.

Her supporters believe the top courts are biased against her and the cases are an attempt by the elite to force her from office.

Last week, Yingluck Shinawatra’s government announced fresh polls on July 20, but the opposition has rejected the date.

Thailand’s pro-government Red Shirt movement has warned that any attempt to oust PM Yingluck Shinawatra could trigger a civil war.

The movement’s leaders issued the warning at a rally outside Bangkok – the first staged by the Red Shirts near the capital since violent clashes broke out in November.

Opponents of Yingluck Shinawatra and her party have filed legal cases against her.

Months of anti-government mass protests have failed to unseat her.

Speaking to a crowd of tens of thousands, Jatuporn Promphan, the chairman of the pro-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), said judicial institutions were trying “to take over power without elections”.

“What we are most concerned about – that we want to warn all sides against – is a civil war, which we do not want to happen,” he said.

“It will happen if there is a coup and democracy is stolen.”

Yingluck Shinawatra’s supporters say they are holding the rally to deter her opponents from attempts to oust her

Yingluck Shinawatra’s supporters say they are holding the rally to deter her opponents from attempts to oust her

Speaking to a crowd of tens of thousands, Jatuporn Promphan, the chairman of the pro-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), said judicial institutions were trying “to take over power without elections”.

“What we are most concerned about – that we want to warn all sides against – is a civil war, which we do not want to happen,” he said.

“It will happen if there is a coup and democracy is stolen.”

Yingluck Shinawatra is facing mounting legal cases – including charges of neglect of duty and abuse of power – that correspondents say could see her removed from office in coming weeks.

Meanwhile anti-government protesters have continued their own demonstrations from their headquarters in Bangkok’s central Lumpini Park.

The government called an election in February, but that was obstructed by protesters.

Since then Thailand has been in a state of paralysis.

Yingluck Shinawatra’s party has won the last five elections, but her opponents argue that Thailand’s democracy is so deeply flawed that it must be reformed before another election can be held.

Another factor driving the conflict is acute anxiety over the ailing health of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Red Shirts at Saturday’s rally openly showed support for his son Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. He is the designated heir but some among traditional elite are believed to oppose him.

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Thailand’s anti-government protesters have resumed demonstrations in Bangkok demanding the resignation of PM Yingluck Shinawatra.

Large crowds carrying Thai flags marched along several routes from the main park in Bangkok.

It was the first major protest rally to take place since a Thai court ruled the February 2 general election invalid.

Until recently, Thailand had seen an ease in tensions since anti-government demonstrations began four months ago.

Anti-government activists want PM Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and the political system to be reformed.

At the height of the demonstrations, which began in November, protesters shut down key road junctions in Bangkok and blockaded government ministries.

Thailand’s anti-government activists want PM Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and the political system to be reformed

Thailand’s anti-government activists want PM Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and the political system to be reformed

Saturday’s demonstrators, led by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, marched from Bangkok’s Lumpini Park along six different routes through the city centre.

”We want to tell the government that the people don’t accept them anymore and the people really want reform of the country immediately,” Suthep Thaugsuban told reporters.

Suthep Thaugsuban warned the authorities against attempting to organize a re-run of the elections, saying any future poll would be boycotted.

The march comes a week after Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled the February 2 general election invalid.

Yingluck Shinawatra’s ruling party was expected to win the poll, but the opposition boycotted it and protesters disrupted voting, meaning the election has not been completed.

The protesters, who are mainly urban and middle class, want Yingluck Shinawatra’s government replaced by an unelected “people’s council”.

They accuse the Thai government of being run by PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother and ousted former leader, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Yingluck Shinawatra, who has dismissed calls to step down, is currently facing charges of negligence over a government rice subsidy scheme, which critics say was rife with corruption.

She is expected to submit her defense to the National Anti-Corruption Commission on Monday.

If found guilty, Yingluck Shinawatra could be removed from office and faces a five-year ban from politics.

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Thailand’s February 2 general election has been declared invalid by the country’s Constitutional Court.

The snap poll was called by PM Yingluck Shinawatra amid major anti-government protests in Bangkok.

The ruling party was expected to win, but the opposition boycotted it and protesters disrupted voting, meaning the election has not been completed.

The vote was unconstitutional because it did not take place on the same day across the country, the court said.

Polls were not held in a number of constituencies because protesters had blocked candidate registration.

Thailand's February 2 general election has been declared invalid by the country’s Constitutional Court

Thailand’s February 2 general election has been declared invalid by the country’s Constitutional Court (photo AP)

Thailand’s Constitutional Court, which ruled to void the election by six votes to three, was responding to a motion by a law lecturer who had challenged the election on a number of points.

It is not clear when a new election will be held.

Thailand has been hit by anti-government protests since November 2013.

The protesters, who are mainly urban and middle class, want Yingluck Shinawatra’s government replaced by an unelected “people’s council”.

They allege her brother, ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, controls her administration and say Shinawatra family money has corrupted Thai politics.

Yingluck Shinawatra and her ruling Pheu Thai party remain very popular in rural areas, however, leaving Thailand deeply polarized.

Thai voting has begun in five provinces that were unable to hold polls in last month’s general election because of anti-government protests.

No disturbances have so far been reported in Sunday’s ballot.

But the election commission said the situation was still too tense in many areas for polls to re-open.

Thailand has been in a political crisis since mass rallies began in November, with protesters calling for PM Yingluck Shinawatra to resign.

They want her government to be replaced by an unelected “people’s council” to reform the political system.

The opposition alleges that money politics have corrupted Thailand’s democracy and that Yingluck Shinawatra is controlled by her brother, ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile.

Yingluck Shinawatra leads a government that won elections in 2011 with broad support from rural areas

Yingluck Shinawatra leads a government that won elections in 2011 with broad support from rural areas

Protesters marched through Bangkok on Sunday, but there were no signs of voters being prevented from attending polling stations, as had been the case in early February.

“The polls are going peacefully – everything is under control and there are no problems,” a spokesman for the election commissioner said on Sunday.

However, the ballot will still leave too many parliamentary seats unfilled for a new government to be elected.

PM Yingluck Shinawatra is therefore stuck in a caretaker role, giving her cabinet very limited powers to govern.

On Friday, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban announced that demonstrators would end their occupation of central Bangkok in what was seen as a first sign of flexibility from the prime minister’s opponents.

Talks are also planned next week between representatives from both sides.

Yingluck Shinawatra leads a government that won elections in 2011 with broad support from rural areas. In response to the protests, she called snap elections on February 2, which her government was widely expected to win.

Thailand’s polls were boycotted by the opposition, and voting was disrupted by protesters at around 10% of polling stations.

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The death toll from a blast in Bangkok rose to three on Monday.

On Sunday, an apparent grenade blast near an anti-government protest site killed a woman and a four-year-old boy.

Doctors said on Monday that the little boy’s sister died later of brain injuries.

Twenty-two people were hurt in Sunday’s blast, including a nine-year-old boy who is in intensive care.

An apparent grenade blast near anti-government protest site killing a woman and a 4-year-old boy

An apparent grenade blast near anti-government protest site killing a woman and a 4-year-old boy

Sunday’s attack came hours after gunmen opened fire on an anti-government rally in eastern Thailand, killing a five-year-old girl.

Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has condemned the attacks, describing them as “terrorist acts for political gain”.

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon has also spoken out, calling for violence “from any quarter” to end immediately.

Meanwhile, the Thai army chief says the military will not intervene with force in the country’s crisis.

Thailand’s political crisis has become increasingly violent since mass protests began in November.

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A five-year-old girl has been killed and dozens of other people wounded after gunmen have opened fire on an anti-government rally in eastern Thailand.

Attackers threw explosives and shot at demonstrators at a rally called by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

The incident took place at a night market in the Khao Saming district of Trat province late on Saturday.

Tensions across Thailand have escalated since a wave of anti-government protests began in November.

The demonstrators want PM Yingluck Shinawatra to resign to make way for an appointed interim government, but she has refused.

On Tuesday several people were killed in clashes that erupted in Bangkok, when police began clearing protest sites.

Attackers threw grenades and sprayed the crowd with bullets at a night market in the Khao Saming district of Trat province

Attackers threw grenades and sprayed the crowd with bullets at a night market in the Khao Saming district of Trat province

The latest attack occurred about 180 miles south-east of Bangkok.

Officials said the five-year-old girl had been standing at a noodle stall when the attackers, in two pick-up trucks, opened fire at the PDRC rally. She died from a gunshot wound to the head.

At least 30 other people are believed to have been injured. Another child is said to be in a critical condition.

PDRC spokesman Suwicharn Suwannakha said the attack happened during a speech by a party leader, Thai newspaper The Nation reported.

Suwicharn Suwannakha said he first heard the explosions and gunfire and then saw chairs in front of the stage scattered.

No group has so far said it carried out the attack.

There has been growing frustration recently from the red shirts over the government’s inability to disperse the protesters, who have been occupying parts of central Bangkok for weeks.

Red-shirt leaders have organized a mass gathering in north-eastern Thailand this weekend to decide how they should fight back against the campaign to unseat the government.

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Thai constitutional court has rejected an opposition request to annul the February 2 election, citing insufficient grounds.

The Democrat Party had argued that the poll violated the constitution for several reasons, including that it was not completed in one day.

The government blamed the delay on the opposition blocking polling stations.

Thailand has been in a political crisis since mass anti-government protests kicked off in November.

They were sparked by a controversial amnesty bill which critics said would allow former leader Thaksin Shinawatra to return to Thailand without serving time in jail for his corruption conviction.

The demonstrators have since called for the resignation of PM Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, and her government.

Yingluck Shinawatra had called the election in the hope of defusing the crisis.

Thai constitutional court has rejected an opposition request to annul the February 2 election

Thai constitutional court has rejected an opposition request to annul the February 2 election

But the Democrats refused to contest the election – which they were almost certain to lose – arguing that reform of Thailand’s political system must come first.

The constitutional court annulled a previous election seven years ago for seemingly trifling irregularities.

It has also twice dissolved previous incarnations of the ruling Pheu Thai party and twice forced prime ministers from office.

This time though, the court dismissed the petition saying there was no credible evidence that the election had violated the constitution.

The opposition movement has not exhausted legal avenues for blocking the government, our correspondent says.

They are still hoping an official corruption investigation into Yingluck Shinawatra and other ministers will prevent her from forming a new government.

Wiratana Kalayasiri, a former opposition lawmaker and head of the Democrat Party’s legal team, who brought the opposition petition to court, said: “This case is over.”

“But if the government does anything wrong again, we will make another complaint,” he told the AFP news agency.

Millions were prevented from voting because anti-government protesters forced the closure of hundreds of polling stations in Bangkok and in the south on election day.

It means the results of the election cannot be announced until special polls have been held in the constituencies that missed out on the February 2 vote.

The Election Commission said on Tuesday that those elections will be held on April 27.

However, no decision has yet been made on the 28 constituencies where no candidates stood in the election.

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The Thai polling has now ended in a general election boycotted by the opposition and blighted by protests.

Anti-government activists forced some polling stations in Bangkok and the south to close but a large majority elsewhere were said to be peaceful.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called the vote to head off weeks of mass protests aimed at forcing her to resign.

Her party is widely expected to win but legal challenges and a lack of a quorum of MPs may create a political limbo.

Yingluck Shinawatra, who won the last election in 2011, voted soon after polls opened on Sunday near her Bangkok home.

Her opponents took to the streets in November after her government tried to pass an amnesty law that would potentially have allowed her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, to return from exile.

Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister who fled during a court case in 2008, is reviled by the protesters, who say he controls the government from abroad.

Security has been heavy throughout Thailand, with vast areas under a state of emergency because of the protests.

“The situation overall is calm and we haven’t received any reports of violence this morning,” National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabutr told Reuters.

Security officials said about 130,000 personnel had been deployed across Thailand on Sunday, including 12,000 in Bangkok.

Yingluck Shinawatra, who won the last election in 2011, voted soon after polls opened on Sunday near her Bangkok home

Yingluck Shinawatra, who won the last election in 2011, voted soon after polls opened on Sunday near her Bangkok home

There has been little campaigning for the election and it was unclear how many Thais had turned out.

Voting in 13 of Bangkok’s 33 constituencies, and in 37 of 56 constituencies in the south was disrupted.

These are strongholds of the opposition Democrat Party, which is boycotting the election.

Some voters expressed frustration when they found their local polling stations blocked.

One high-profile politician, independent candidate and anti-corruption campaigner Chuwit Kamolvisit, brawled with anti-election activists.

“They tried to attack me while I was trying to vote,” he said.

Polling in the rural north and east, where Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai party has overwhelming support, was largely unaffected.

“Today is an important day,” Yingluck Shinawatra said as she voted.

“I would like to invite Thai people to come out and vote to uphold democracy.”

However, disruption to candidate registration means that even if she wins, there will not be enough MPs in parliament for Yingluck Shinawatra to have full power over government policy, and by-elections will be needed.

The opposition is also likely to mount legal challenges to the election.

Yingluck Shinawatra’s party is already facing a host of challenges in the courts aiming to disband it, as has happened with pro-Thaksin parties in the past.

The Democrat Party, which is allied to the protesters, has been unable to win a majority in parliament for more than two decades.

Many of its members want the government to be replaced by an unelected “people’s council” that would oversee wide reform of the political system.

Trouble broke out in Bangkok on Saturday in a violent clash between pro- and anti-government groups.

A gun battle erupted in the Lak Si constituency as anti-government protesters blockaded a building storing ballot papers. At least seven people were wounded.

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Violent clashes involving anti-government protesters have erupted ahead of Sunday’s elections in Thai capital, Bangkok.

According to local media, several people have been injured by gunfire.

The violence erupted during a stand-off between supporters and opponents of PM Yingluck Shinawatra.

The shots were fired as demonstrators blockaded a building where ballot papers are being stored, in an attempt to prevent their distribution.

Protesters want the government replaced by an unelected “people’s council”.

The opposition has vowed to boycott Sunday’s poll, which is likely to be won by Yingluck Shinawatra.

The incident took place in Bangkok’s Laksi district, a stronghold of the prime minister’s Pheu Thai party.

Thai protesters want Yingluck Shinawatra’s government replaced by an unelected people's council

Thai protesters want Yingluck Shinawatra’s government replaced by an unelected people’s council

A number of people could be seen lying injured on the road, as exchanges of gunfire continued, forcing reporters and passers-by to flee for cover.

It was not immediately clear whether those wounded were government supporters or opponents.

The protest movement has vowed to disrupt the election as much as possible, by preventing ballot papers from reaching polling stations.

The army earlier said it would increase the number of troops deployed in Bangkok for the polls on Sunday. Some 10,000 police will also patrol the streets.

The protests began in November, after the lower house backed a controversial amnesty bill that critics said would allow Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, to return.

Yingluck Shinawatra called early elections to quell the unrest, but demonstrators have vowed to block the poll from going ahead.

Correspondents say one election commissioner has predicted that 10% of polling stations will not be able to open at all on Sunday.

Because of disruption to candidate registration, the elections will also not deliver enough MPs for a quorum in parliament, meaning that by-elections will be needed before a government can be approved, extending the instability.

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Thai protesters have surrounded polling stations, blocking early voting ahead of next week’s general election, officials say.

One of their leaders has been shot dead during a clash with government supporters just outside the capital, Bangkok.

Advance voting has reportedly been cancelled in a number of locations.

Anti-government activists want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and the political system to be reformed.

Suthin Taratin was speaking on top of a truck, which was part of a rally at a polling station where advanced voting was supposed to take place, when he was struck by gunfire.

He died later in hospital.

Crowds of flag-waving demonstrators chained the doors of polling stations shut, despite promises by protest leaders not to obstruct the polls.

The protesters surrounded polling stations in Bangkok and southern Thailand in an attempt to stop people voting.

Thai protesters have surrounded polling stations, blocking early voting ahead of next week's general election

Thai protesters have surrounded polling stations, blocking early voting ahead of next week’s general election

Voting was either blocked completely or halted at 48 out of 50 polling stations in Bangkok.

Thailand’s election commission has called for the general vote scheduled for February 2 to be postponed because of possible disruption and violence.

But the government has so far insisted that the election must go ahead on schedule.

The latest disturbances comes despite a pledge from protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who said on Saturday that his supporters would not obstruct advance voting – although they would demonstrate outside polling stations.

The protest movement says it is not obstructing the poll, but that “supporters are simply protesting the advance polls held today by surrounding/standing in front of election units”, in a statement on its Facebook page.

Advance voting is for those unable to take part in the February election.

A state of emergency is in place as the authorities struggle to cope with the unrest.

Protesters, who started their campaign in November, want to install an unelected “people’s council” to run the country until the political system is changed.

They say Yingluck Shinawatra’s government is being influenced by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

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Thailand’s pro-government “red-shirt” leader Kwanchai Praipana has been shot, as the 60-day state of emergency came into effect in Bangkok and nearby provinces.

Kwanchai Praipana, a local radio presenter who played a large role in Bangkok protests in 2010, was wounded at his home in Udon Thani in the north.

It came as anti-government protesters continued to block parts of Bangkok to force the prime minister to resign.

The emergency decree gives the government wide-ranging powers.

Imposed late on Tuesday, it covers Bangkok and three surrounding provinces. It gives the government the power to control crowds and censor media, but it remains unclear how it will be enforced.

The protesters – who began their campaign in November – say PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s government is being influenced by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

The protesters want an unelected “people’s council” to run Thailand until its political system is changed.

Kwanchai Praipana, a local radio presenter who played a large role in Bangkok protests in 2010, was wounded at his home in Udon Thani

Kwanchai Praipana, a local radio presenter who played a large role in Bangkok protests in 2010, was wounded at his home in Udon Thani

Yingluck Shinawatra has refused to step down and has called an election on February 2, which the opposition are boycotting.

The emergency declaration follows incidents of violence during protests, with both the pro-government and anti-government sides blaming each other for attacks.

At least nine people have died since the wave of protests started last year.

Kwanchai Praipana, a prominent leader of the “red shirts” who support Thaksin Shinawatra and the current government, was wounded in the leg and shoulder while standing outside his home on Wednesday.

Police Colonel Kowit Tharoenwattanasuk told Reuters news agency that unidentified people fired shots from a pick-up truck.

He added that the attack was possibly a “politically motivated crime”.

The “red-shirt” government supporters – who shut down Bangkok in 2010 – have for the most part stayed away from these protests. But observers fear that violence could erupt if a trigger brought them out onto the streets.

In Bangkok, meanwhile, there was little change seen on the streets in the first few hours of the state of emergency, with anti-government protesters continuing their blockades in the city centre.

PM Yingluck Shinawatra is being investigated by Thailand’s official anti-corruption commission in connection with the government’s controversial rice subsidy scheme.

The policy guarantees Thai rice farmers a much higher price than on the global market, but critics say it is too expensive and vulnerable to corruption.

The commission has already charged one minister, and is investigating others.

The news comes as Yingluck Shinawatra already faces intense pressure to resign.

Anti-government protesters have been marching through the capital, saying they will shut it down until their demands are met.

They accuse her government of being under the control of her brother, ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

They say they want an unelected “People’s Council” instead, to reform the electoral system.

The rice purchase scheme was launched in 2011, with the aim of boosting farmers’ incomes and helping alleviate rural poverty.

But it has resulted in the accumulation of huge stockpiles of rice, which the government cannot sell.

Yingluck Shinawatra is being investigated in connection with the government's controversial rice subsidy scheme

Yingluck Shinawatra is being investigated in connection with the government’s controversial rice subsidy scheme

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) says it is looking into Yingluck Shinawatra’s role in the scheme, and investigating her for possible negligence of duty.

“Those who oversaw the scheme knew there were losses but did not put a stop to it,” NACC spokeswoman Vicha Mahakhun told a news conference.

As prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra is nominally the head of the National Rice Committee.

Farmers have traditionally been some of Yingluck Shinawatra’s most ardent supporters. Her Phuea Thai Party was helped to power in 2011 by offering to buy rice at above the market price.

But the rice policy is thought to be costing Thailand around $10 billion a year – and the government has been unable to pay farmers for their most recent harvest, because a bond issue last year failed to raise sufficient funds.

Farmers are already talking about marching on Bangkok in protest.

In addition, if the NACC finds PM Yingluck Shinawatra guilty, she could be banned from politics, along with other ministers.

This would cast another shadow over the election she has called for next month.

The election is already proving contentious. The main opposition Democrat Party is boycotting the polls, which it fears will once again return the Shinawatra family to power.

Anti-government protesters have also rejected the elections, demanding electoral reforms.

Yingluck Shinawatra is currently moving around Bangkok to avoid the protesters blockading her office – although police said on Thursday that the crowds on the streets were gradually dwindling in number.

Thai protesters are blocking roads in parts of Bangkok in a bid to oust Yingluck Shinawatra’s government before snap elections on February 2.

The protesters have built barricades and occupied key road junctions.

The government has deployed 18,000 security personnel to maintain order.

The protesters, who began their campaign in November, want to replace the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra with an unelected “People’s Council”.

They allege Yingluck Shinawatra is a proxy for her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in 2006 and is currently in self-imposed exile.

Protesters claim populist policies from Thaksin Shinawatra-allied parties have created a flawed democracy.

However, Thaksin Shinawatra-allied parties draw considerable support from rural voters and have a majority in the Thai parliament. Parties allied to Thaksin Shinawatra have won the last four elections.

The main opposition party is now boycotting the 2 February polls. Anti-government protesters have called on Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.

Yingluck Shinawatra has previously urged protesters to respect the democratic process and use the February elections to choose the next government.

At least eight people have been killed since the protests began late last year. On Saturday, at least seven people were injured when unknown gunmen opened fire on demonstrators at the main rally site in Bangkok.

Thai protesters are blocking roads in parts of Bangkok in a bid to oust Yingluck Shinawatra’s government

Thai protesters are blocking roads in parts of Bangkok in a bid to oust Yingluck Shinawatra’s government

On Sunday night, an unidentified gunman attacked demonstrators at a protest site, shooting at least one man, officials said.

Police said a gunman also fired shots at the opposition party headquarters in a separate incident, although no casualties were reported.

Thousands are reported to have turned out for Monday’s demonstrations. Protesters say they intend to achieve what they are calling a shutdown of the capital.

Seven major intersections have been blocked by the anti-government protest movement, which has erected stages and piles of sandbags across the roads.

The government says it wants life to continue as normal through the shutdown and has ordered extra trains to run on the mass transit system and provided thousands of additional parking places outside the city centre.

Protesters also plan to surround key ministries and cut off their power supply in a bid to prevent them from functioning. About 150 schools have been told to close.

The protesters say they will remain in place for several days – but say they will not target public transport or the airports, which were closed for several days by anti-Thaksin protesters in 2008.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who was formerly a senior opposition party politician, described the movement as “a people’s revolution”.

Yingluck Shinawatra was “no longer prime minister” in the eyes of the demonstrators, he told reporters on Monday.

The government says it is deploying 8,000 soldiers and 10,000 police to keep order.

The military – which has carried out several coups in the past – has refused to rule out another one. Some fear an escalation of violence could lead to a military intervention.

The government has so far worked to avoid confrontation with the protesters.

Yingluck Shianwatra had “ordered all police and military personnel to exercise utmost restraint and not to use all kinds of weapons in handling the protesters”, the deputy prime minister said.

The political unrest is the worst to hit Thailand since the protests of 2010, which were against a government led by the current opposition party and left more than 90 people dead, mostly civilian protesters.

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