Thailand’s Election Commission plans to meet members of the nation’s biggest political parties today to discuss ways to ease tension before a Feb. 2 vote that’s being threatened by growing anti-government protests. Groups opposed to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra plan to surround government ministries and occupy 20 major intersections in Bangkok on Jan. 13 until she agrees to step down and allow an unelected council to reform the country’s electoral system, Suthep Thaugsuban, a former opposition lawmaker who is leading the movement, said yesterday. Yingluck’s administration has endured more than two months of street demonstrations that Suthep says are aimed at erasing her family’s corrupting political influence. Allies of Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, have won the past five elections, including two since his ouster in a 2006 coup. The baht fell for an 11th day today, the longest losing streak on record, and the benchmark stock index slumped to a 15-month low.
“At 9 a.m. on January 13 we will begin our seizure of Bangkok,” Suthep told supporters at Democracy Monument late yesterday. “We will stay as long as it takes to achieve our goal. After the seizure, we will set up a government and a parliament of the people.”