Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

On a day in which a police Sergeant Major was shot dead and scores of protesters were injured, troubles in Thailand threatened to escalate after the government refused to call off a troublesome election.

The Thai Government of Yingluck Shinawatra, which was recently forced to dissolve parliament due to massive protests in the capital, rejected a call by the Election Commission to call of an election on February 2nd.

It has also rejected the same call made last week by the Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government protesters.

The Election Commission’s Secretary General  Supachai Somcharoen said : "The EC would like to send a message through  to the government, to all sides in conflict, and people in all sectors, that the Feb 2, 2014 election will not happen without a joint agreement.

“Therefore, the EC would like to ask the government to postpone the election until such an agreement has been reached. The EC is ready to act as a mediator to find a joint settlement”.

If no action was taken to resolve and improve the situation, the EC would consider exercising the rights of individual commissioners to make a decision to resolve the situation as deemed appropriate, the statement added.

But he was later quoted in a later story in the Bangkok Post said the EC was duty bound to organise the Feb 2nd election.

Several commissioners contacted intimated they would not be taking part. One, Pravit Rattanapien, said the EC's statement was unanimous.

He told the Bangkok Post: “It is clear to the EC that it would not be able to hold a clean and fair election in a situation plagued with conflict”.

Caretaker Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwamn that the election could not be cancelled. “It would go ahead no matter what happened.”

Police among their own teargas move to confront kinifeman (at rear)

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was not in the capital. Protesters claim the Thai Government is actually being run by her elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra from Dubai. Her party the Pheu Thai party had attempted to railroad a bill through parliament which would grant Amnesty to Thaksin, who had been convicted of corruption, allowing him to return in a hands-on capacity.

Yingluck Shinawatra has promised a Reform Committee but protesters say they will not accept any of her proposals. The current government, they insist, has corruptly plundered the country.

Royal Thai Police Twitter pic
Several EC members had to be evacuated helicopter from the Japanese-Thai Sports Complex in central Bangkok earlier today when violence began an hour after dawn.  

Anti-government protesters, who are accused of being undemocratic, blocked the routes for political parties to register for the election and were then tear gassed by police.

By nightfall the tension had eased and protesters sat down to listen to speeches and music.

During the melee in which protesters threw parts of broken up pavement, fired catapults, and even threw back tear gas canisters, shots rang out. One policeman went down and a protester was also seriously injured. As is often the case in Thai demonstrations it is not clear who fired the shots.

The Pheu Thai Government expects to win the election if it goes ahead in February 2nd and they believe they can continue to count on the support of the pro-government 'Red Shirts' and the rural poor of northeast Thailand, which is their support base.

It however looks increasingly like that election will not now take place.