BANGKOK – Thailand’s election commission on Thursday urged the government to delay the upcoming polls as clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters killed a police officer and injured nearly 100 people, adding to political turmoil threatening to tear apart the country.
The unrest took place outside a Bangkok sports stadium where election candidates were gathering to draw lots for their positions on the ballot. Protesters threw rocks as they tried to break into the building to halt the process, while police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Four election commissioners left the stadium on a helicopter to escape the violence.
Protesters seeking to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra are demanding that the February 2, 2014 elections be delayed until she leaves office and reforms are implemented, and have vowed to disrupt the polls if they go ahead. Ms. Yingluck has insisted that the elections should go ahead.
The election commission said in a statement that it was urging the government to consider “postponing the elections,” citing the security situation. Commission head Somchai Srisutthiyakorn denied the body was “involving itself in politics” by urging a delay in the polls. “We have good intentions and want to see peace in this country,” he told reporters.
On Wednesday, Ms. Yingluck announced a proposal for a national reform council to come up with a compromise to the crisis, but it was rejected by the protesters.