At least 28 people were injured as two explosions rocked a protest site in Bangkok yesterday, adding to almost daily attacks as groups push to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and derail a Feb. 2 election. The afternoon blasts occurred at Victory Monument, one of seven key districts that have been blockaded by demonstrators in the capital since Jan. 13, according to the Bangkok Emergency Medical Center. Violence over the past three days has killed one and wounded 67, the center said on its website. Suthep Thaugsuban, a former opposition party lawmaker, is escalating efforts to cause chaos in the capital to destabilize Yingluck’s administration. He wants the government replaced with an unelected council that would change laws to prevent parties linked to former premier Thaksin Shinawatra returning to power, risking a backlash from some of the 15 million people who voted for Thaksin’s sister in the 2011 election.
“The government will try to prevent encounters between groups that support and oppose the election because the people who want it to go ahead are becoming more active,” National Security Council head Paradorn Pattanatabut told reporters yesterday. Growing numbers of people have joined candle-light vigils in Bangkok in recent days, adopting “respect my vote” as the movement’s slogan and calling for an end to violence.
Suthep’s critics have said he aims to create enough turmoil to spur the intervention of the military in a repeat of a 2006 coup that toppled Thaksin, whose allies have won the past five elections on support from rural northern and northeastern regions. The protesters, mostly middle-class Bangkokians and Democrat party supporters from southern provinces, say Yingluck’s government is illegitimate and run from abroad by Thaksin, who faces a two-year jail term for corruption if he returns in a case he says was politically motivated.