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Amid Clashes, Thailand's Election Commission Calls for Delay in Vote

Thailand's election commission has requested the indefinite postponement of an early vote, which was called for by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as a way out of the country's political crisis, which turned violent again Thursday.

In a statement, the commission cited a lack of peace between the government and protesters, who for weeks have demanded that Prime Minister Yingluck step down and hand power to an unelected council.

Earlier Thursday, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at anti-government protesters who were trying to disrupt election preparations.

The clashes began after protesters ignored police warnings and stormed a sports stadium in Bangkok where officials were registering candidates for the scheduled February 2 vote.

The protesters hurled rocks at police, but later withdrew and the election preparations continued as usual. Officials said at least 32 protesters were hurt during the incident.

Police spokesman Piya Uthayo said three policemen also were injured.



"I urge the people, especially those who convinced the protesters to use violence and to invade the building and to attack officers, please stop."



Weeks of feisty protests forced Mrs. Yingluck to call for early elections and dissolve parliament, but she has refused to resign. She has not responded to the election commission's latest request.



On Wednesday, Mrs. Yingluck proposed the creation of an independent national reform council that would work alongside the new government.

The protesters, led by ex-Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, immediately rejected the proposal, saying reforms should be undertaken before any vote.

The main opposition Democrat Party has said it will boycott the election, which the prime minister's Pheu Thai Party was already predicted to win.

Protesters say the prime minister's removal is necessary to purge the country of corruption and money politics. They view Ms. Yingluck as a puppet of her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr. Thaksin, a billionaire businessman, was ousted in a 2006 military coup. He is living in self-imposed exile overseas after being convicted of corruption.

Ms. Yingluck and her brother have the support of Thailand's rural poor, largely because of Mr. Thaksin's policies to bring virtually free health care, cheap loans and other benefits to the long-neglected countryside. But they are disliked by the urban middle class and more educated elite.

Most of the protests, which at first aimed to occupy government buildings, have been peaceful, with police exercising restraint. However, earlier this month several people died in street clashes in the capital.

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