Shots, Explosions Heard as Thais Continue Protest in Bangkok

In Thailand, several people have been wounded in clashes that took place after opposition protesters flooded the streets of Bangkok on the third and final day of a major push to disrupt snap elections scheduled for Sunday.

Volleys of gunshots and at least two explosions were heard overnight in the capital, which has seen massive protests since November.

Protest leader and former member of parliament Suthep Thaugsuban called Saturday for a peaceful blockade of roads to disrupt the election, but has also pledged not to stop people from voting.

Despite pledges to stay away from polling stations, many are expecting violence during Sunday's voting.

Demonstrators have already disrupted early voting by sometimes violently blocking polling stations in many parts of the country, raising questions about whether the vote could take place.

Protesters said the vote should not be held before widespread reforms took place. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has argued the election is the only legitimate way to end a months-long political stalemate.

Thailand's election commission had called for the vote to be delayed, citing fears of violence that has killed at least 10 people since November.

The army is increasing its presence in the capital to prevent further unrest during the elections, and a state of emergency has already been declared.

But the military, which has staged 18 coups in the past 81 years, has said it will not interfere in the political situation, unless absolutely necessary.

The conflict pits Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, remains very influential in Thailand, even though he was convicted of corruption and lives in self-imposed exile.

The opposition Democrat Party said it would boycott the Sunday vote. Analysts said even with the participation of the opposition, the ruling Pheu Thai party would almost certainly win the election, in part because of the popularity of Thaksin.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters. [Read More]

Source: VOA News: Economy and Finance


Comments are closed. Please check back later.