Thailand Braces For Chaos and Violence As Elections Go Ahead

Polls to open on Sunday for snap elections as Yingluck presses ahead with bid to reassert mandate

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Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters

Riot police officers stand guard at the gate of the Army Club where Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is holding a cabinet meeting in Bangkok January 28, 2014.

Embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is sticking to her guns and will oversee snap elections across the country on Feb. 2, despite calls from the country’s election commission earlier in the week to delay the polls by at least a month after a violent weekend in Bangkok.

After holding negotiations with the commission on Tuesday afternoon at a military facility in Bangkok, Yingluck’s administration appears to have held its ground, despite predictions of looming violence that analysts say will erupt in the capital if polls open on Sunday.

At least one anti-government protester was shot dead and 12 others injured over the weekend.

Violence also took place during the meeting between the government and the Election Commission today. Outside the building, struggles broke out between anti-government protesters and an unknown assailant who reportedly discharged a firearm into the crowd. Two people were injured during the incident and the crowd beat the gunman before he was sent to a hospital, according to media reports.

On Tuesday, a prominent rights group decried the opposition plan to obstruct fellow citizens from participating in early voting and called on political parties to reign in violence.

“The protesters claim they are fighting corruption and seeking reforms, but this doesn’t justify their use of force and intimidation to block voting,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, in a press statement.

According to analysts, Yingluck’s government is all but guaranteed victory in the weekend’s polls thanks in large part to its overwhelming popular support and because the opposition Democratic Party has long since committed to boycotting the elections.