Thailand’s Election Commission said Thursday it is “highly unlikely” that the country will be able to hold July elections due to political unrest that has disrupted preparations. The turmoil was highlighted by protesters who forced the acting prime minister to flee a key poll-planning meeting and overnight violence that left three dead. The attack on a protest site, in which at least 22 others were injured, prompted a televised announcement by the army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, that the military might have to “use force” if violence continues. The comment repeated earlier warnings from Prayuth since the political crisis escalated six months ago. Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan was meeting Thursday with the Election Commission at an air force academy outside Bangkok to discuss whether the controversial polls could be held July 20 or would have to be delayed due to the political conflict. He had chosen the location for security reasons to avoid protesters in the capital who are opposed to the election and are calling for an unelected, appointed prime minister.
About 100 protesters who had driven in motorcades from central Bangkok entered the compound through a side entrance, blowing whistles and waving Thai flags. Riot police stationed outside apparently allowed them to enter, followed by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban.
Niwattumrong and several Cabinet ministers at the meeting were notified by security officers that protesters were approaching and hastily ended the meeting, got into their cars and were driven away. “The government side agreed that we should leave for our own safety,” said Lt. Gen. Paradorn Pattanathabutr, a senior government official who attended the meeting. “The protesters wanted to get in, so we had to leave in our vehicles immediately.” He said the government has suggested that future meetings be held by teleconference.
After the commotion ended, Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn cast doubt on the likelihood of an election taking place July 20 — a date the commission had selected but still requires a royal endorsement to become official.
Full Article: July Elections in Thailand ‘Unlikely’ Amid Crisis – ABC News.