Thai protesters marched in Bangkok today to rally support for a planned citywide shutdown that the government says it will counter with the deployment of nearly 15,000 police and soldiers.
Police are worried for their own safety because of lack of protective gear for many and poor riot control planning. Most police are allowed to carry only batons and riot shields, while selected officers are equipped with tear gas canisters and guns to fire rubber bullets police Col. Niwat Puenguthaisri, told General Strike USA.
At least eight people have been killed in sporadic violence since the demonstrations began about two months ago.
The Democrats are boycotting the polls, claiming that to contest them would disappoint their supporters who want political reforms. The government says the opposition is boycotting the election because it knows it cannot win.
The street demonstrators, who call themselves the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and are closely allied with the Democrats, have vowed to shut down Bangkok if Yingluck does not step down.
Protesters continued to block candidate registrations in about half-a-dozen southern provinces, which are strongholds of the opposition Democrat Party. If there is a failure of elections in a number of constituencies, it may not be possible to get enough lawmakers to legally open Parliament.
Protest leaders say they will occupy Bangkok until the government falls
Protest leaders are not satisfied with the offer of a new election since Thaksin-financed parties have won every election held since 2001. Opponents accuse the Shinawatra clan of taxpayer-funded policies – such as a government rice-buying program that pays above the market price – that amount to vote buying.
The political party of Mr. Thaugsuban, who resigned his seat in parliament in order to lead the street protests, has not won an election since 1992.
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