Thailand's Pheu Thai complains of 'smear campaign'

Yingluck Shinawatra (file photo)
Image caption Yingluck Shinawatra will lead the main opposition party in the general election

Thailand's main opposition party has filed a formal complaint against its main rival in the forthcoming election.

The Pheu Thai party accuses the secretary general of the Democrat party of smearing the reputation of some of its most high profile candidates.

They include the sister of the exiled fugitive former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and leaders of last year's anti-government street protests.

The row highlights key issues at the heart of the campaign.

The allegations centre on remarks allegedly made by Suthep Thaugsuban, an outspoken figure within the Democrat party, which heads the current coalition government.

Mr Suthep is accused of suggesting that the opposition's candidate for prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, had only entered politics for business reasons, and as such was following in the footsteps of her more famous brother, the ousted former premier.

Three other opposition candidates, all of whom hold senior positions within the anti-government "red-shirt" movement, have been described by Mr Suthep as terrorists running for office.

The three have been charged with terrorism in connection with last year's political violence, but none has been tried in court.

Many red-shirt supporters remain loyal to Mr Thaksin.

The opposition party has filed a complaint with the Election Commission saying Mr Suthep's comments amount to a smear campaign designed to sway voters.

The row has served to highlight a key point - Mr Thaksin may be in exile but he is still a dominant and divisive presence in Thai politics, and a factor in this election.