Thailand to go ahead with Feb. 2 election, despite warnings of chaos
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 00:00
BANGKOK Reuters: Thailand’s prime minister has confirmed a general election will go ahead on Sunday despite a warning that it could end in chaos in the face of months of at times violent anti-government protests.
In a separate part of an army complex in Bangkok where Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was meeting Election Commission officials, shots were fired in a group of anti-government protesters. Two people were injured.
“We have to go forward with the election. The Election Commission will organise the election under the framework of the constitution and try to avoid any violence,” Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana told a news conference.
Yingluck had called the snap election in the hope of confirming her hold on power and putting an end to the protests in the capital which began in November in an attempt to force her from office.
The protests are the latest eruption in a political conflict that has gripped Thailand for eight years and which is starting to hurt growth and investor confidence in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.
The conflict broadly pits Bangkok’s middle class and royalist establishment against the mainly poor, rural backers of Yingluck and her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
The protesters have rejected the election, which Yingluck’s ruling party looks set to win, and prevented advance voting in many parts of Bangkok and the south on Sunday.
The Commission has been pressing for a delay in the election because of the unrest and wants it delayed by up to four months.
Ten people have been killed since the protests began and hundreds have been wounded.
The latest shooting was where about 500 anti-government protesters had gathered at the Army Club compound in Bangkok where Yingluck held a cabinet meeting before meeting the Election Commission. The shooting took place far from that meeting.