Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra seems determined to proceed with an election on February 2, despite a weekend of bloody attacks on protesters in Bangkok. In two separate incidents on Friday and Sunday, one person was killed and almost 70 others were injured when hand grenades were thrown at rally sites filled with protesters. On Monday, January 20, Yingluck refused to answer questions about whether to declare a state of emergency and possibly delay the vote. Despite several setbacks, the younger sister of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra has maintained that the ballot box is the best way to resolve the country’s latest political crisis. But with the vote now less than two weeks away, the latest violence has fuelled fears that the safety of voters can’t be guaranteed.
The opposition accuses Yingluck Shinawatra of being a puppet of her elder brother and former PM Thaksin. “The government is walking into its own trap,” political analyst Panitan Wattanayagorn told DW. “If people can’t go out and reach their polling station, that will be very destructive for the legitimacy of the election.”
He says all sides in the political stand-off need “breathing space” and called on the prime minister to postpone the poll to open up fresh negotiations with her main opponents.
The almost decade-long conflict between supporters of Thailand’s old guard and the wealthy Shinawatra family erupted again in November when hundreds of thousands of supporters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) took to the streets.