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Thai PM to discuss poll delay with election body

January 28, 2014
Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's prime minister met Tuesday with the country's polling body to discuss the possibility of postponing a general election set for this weekend, even as protesters tried to disrupt the talks.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attended the meeting despite a blockade around the venue by anti-government protesters pushing for her resignation before any polls are held. Soon after the meeting began, some of the several hundred protesters pushed their way into the compound of the Army Club on the outskirts of Bangkok where there meeting was being held but had not entered any buildings.

Bluesky Channel, the web and satellite television station that supports the protesters and broadcasts many of their activities live, reported a shooting near the crowd and that two people had been wounded. Its report, which showed a trail of blood on the ground, could not immediately be confirmed.

On Sunday, one protester was shot dead in a clash as protesters swarmed dozens of polling stations in Thailand to stop advance voting for Sunday's election.

The protesters are demanding that an unelected interim government take power before another election, so that it can implement what they say are reforms needed to fight corruption.

Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said earlier Tuesday that the election should be cancelled due to potential violence ahead of the vote.

It wasn't clear whether the protesters were trying to stop the meeting or were just there to keep up pressure on Yingluck, who had arrived earlier for a Cabinet meeting before the protesters turned up.

The parliamentary election is key to her strategy to re-establishing her government's legitimacy in the face of mass street protests that have tied up Bangkok for weeks. Her ruling party still enjoys strong support in most parts of the country, especially among poorer Thais who see it as their champion.

The protesters are occupying major road junctions in Bangkok, and have closed down many government buildings to try to force the government out. They've vowed to stop the election from taking place.

Even if it is held on Sunday as planned, there is little prospect the impasse will end. The demonstrators have said they will continue their action, regardless.

Last week, the Constitutional Court ruled the parliamentary poll can legally be delayed. But it said the power to do so rests with the prime minister in consultation with the Election Commission chief.

The caretaker government had said the date was unchangeable.

 
 

 

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