Thailand’s election commission urged the government on Thursday to postpone the February polls after a policeman was shot dead and dozens of people wounded in clashes between security forces and opposition protesters in Bangkok.
The violence deepened the crisis facing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose government has been shaken by weeks of mass street rallies seeking to curb her family’s political dominance.
The political conflict broadly pits a Bangkok-based middle class and elite against rural and working-class voters loyal to Ms. Yingluck’s older brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as premier in a military coup in 2006.
The protesters — who want to overthrow Ms. Yingluck’s government and install an unelected “people’s council” in its place — accuse the billionaire tycoon-turned-politician of corruption and say he controls his sister’s government from his base in Dubai.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Thursday after demonstrators tried to force their way into a sports stadium in the capital where representatives of about 30 political parties were gathered for the registration process for the February 2 election.
Twenty-five police officers were hospitalised, with 10 in serious condition, according to a police spokesman. One police officer died of a gunshot wound.
“He was shot in his chest and brought to hospital by helicopter,” said Jongjet Aoajenpong, director of the Police General Hospital. “A team of doctors tried to resuscitate him for more than half an hour.”
As the violence escalated, Election Commission member Prawit Rattanapien told the media that “we cannot organise free and fair elections in the current circumstances.” — AFP