Thailand’s Election Commission urged a delay in next week’s planned national vote, warning on Monday of more bloodshed after violent clashes at the weekend. That would drag out a festering crisis that risks splitting the country. The military, which has often stepped in to take control in the past, is resolutely staying out of the fray this time, despite appeals from anti-government protesters. “As election officials, it is our job to make sure elections are successful, but we also need to make sure the country is peaceful enough to hold the election,” Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, an Election Commission member, told Reuters. “We don’t want it to be bloody.” The commission will meet embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday to discuss the vote date.
With protests aimed at toppling Yingluck now in their third month, there has been repeated speculation that the armed forces might try a repeat of the 18 actual and attempted coups they have mounted in 80 years of on-off democracy in Southeast Asia’s second biggest economy.
But in comments to reporters, armed forces supreme commander, Thanasak Patimapakorn, refused to be drawn on whether elections should be postponed.
“The Election Commission and the government will meet to discuss this tomorrow. Soldiers will not be able to say much more than this,” he said. However, the military in recent weeks has also refused to rule out intervention.
The Election Commission says the months of protests render the country too unstable to go to the polls on Feb. 2.