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Thai army asked to secure polls after clashes

Despite electoral commission calls for delay, Yingluck's government wants the February polls to take place as scheduled.

Last updated: 27 Dec 2013 07:27
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Thailand’s government rejected a call from the Election Commission to postpone a February vote. [AFP]

The Thai government has said it will ask the military to help protect candidates and voters in a February election after clashes between police and anti-government protesters in which two people were killed and scores wounded.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government on Thursday rejected a call by the kingdom's election commission to postpone the vote, after a policeman was shot dead during political violence in the capital.

A 30-year-old civilian who was struck by a bullet in the chest during the unrest also died in hospital early Friday, according to the public health ministry.

It said 153 people were injured, of whom 38 were still hospitalised.

Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said Friday he would ask the armed forces supreme commander for help with security for a second round of registration for constituency candidates due to begin around the country on Saturday.

"I will also ask the military to provide security protection for members of the public on the February 2 election date," he said in a nationally televised address.

Limited military involvement

Thailand has been periodically convulsed by political bloodshed since Yingluck's older brother Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown by royalist generals in a coup seven years ago.

The protesters have vowed to block the February election, saying it will only return Thaksin's allies to power.

But so far the army, traditionally a staunch supporter of the anti-Thaksin establishment, has avoided any public intervention in the unrest, apart from sending a limited number of unarmed troops to guard government buildings.

The weeks-long unrest, which has drawn tens of thousands of protesters onto the streets, has left seven people dead and about 400 wounded.

It is the worst civil strife since 2010, when more than 90 civilians were killed in a bloody military crackdown on pro-Thaksin protests under the previous government. 

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Source:
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