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Thai Protesters Begin 3-Day Push Ahead of Election

Thai opposition protesters are marching through Bangkok as part of a concerted, three-day effort to put pressure on the government ahead of Sunday's election.

As they have done for months, protesters took to the streets, waving Thai flags, blowing whistles, and calling for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.

Demonstrators have already disrupted early voting by sometimes violently blocking polling stations in many parts of the country, raising questions about whether the vote could take place.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban suggested Thursday that while he is urging a boycott of the vote, his group will not disrupt any further voting.



"We disagree with the election but we're not obstructing it, otherwise someone could say we are violating people's rights. So whoever wants to vote, they can. But what we're trying to campaign for is that if you agree with us don't vote."



Despite those pledges to stay away from polling stations, many are expecting violence during Sunday's polls.

Protesters say the vote should not be held before widespread reforms take place. Ms. Yingluck has argued the election is the only legitimate way to end a months-long political stalemate.

Thailand's election commission had called for the vote to be delayed, citing fears of violence that has killed at least 10 people since November.

The army is increasing its presence in the capital to prevent further unrest during the elections, and a state of emergency has already been declared.

But the military, which has staged 18 coups in the past 81 years, has said it will not interfere in the political situation, unless absolutely necessary.



The conflict pits Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Ms. Yingluck and her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr. Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, remains very influential in Thailand, even though he was convicted of corruption and lives in self-imposed exile.

The opposition Democrat Party says it will boycott the Sunday vote. Analysts say even with the participation of the opposition, the ruling Pheu Thai party would almost certainly win the election, in part because of the popularity of Mr. Thaksin.

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