Zee Media Bureau
Bangkok: After an anti-government protest leader was shot dead, Suthep Thaugsuban, a former Thai deputy prime minister, has expressed hope that Thailand`s Armed Forces will protect them as the political violence intensified in the country in the run-up to Feb 2 elections.
Yesterday, a protest leader named Suthin Tharatin, was shot in head and chest, as he was leading a crowd aiming to derail the voting at an advance polling booth in Nang Ba district.
Suthin`s death brings the number of dead to 10 since November when the unrest began.
Meanwhile, Suthep Thaugsuban, the main protest leader, who has been adamant on uprooting the Thaksin regime and has boycotted the elections, suggested that the country`s military was "standing by the Thai people".
“The rights and freedoms of the people are guaranteed under the constitution so we hope the armed forces see this fighting and will protect us,” he was quoted as saying by the Sydney morning Herald.
The country`s military has been, however, repeating that it was neutral and didn`t want to pick sides in the recent crisis that pits the Yingluck Shinawatra government against the protesters who want her to step down and call off the elections.
Yesterday`s violence came despite a state of emergency that has been in place since last week. The clashes broke out as the protesters sought to derail the advance polling for Feb 2 elections, the prospects of which going ahead smoothly, looks bleak.
The country`s Election Commission too, is of the view that given the existing state of turmoil in the country, the elections must be delayed.
However, the government insists that any postponement would be "futile", the Information Minister told Reuters.
PM Yingluck Shinawatra is set to meet the EC officials tomorrow to decide on the election date after a Constitutional Court ruling paved the way for a delay in the face of months of anti-government protests.
Thailand is in the grip of chaos and political crisis since November last year when the government wanted to pass Amnesty Bill that would have facilitated the PM`s brother Thaksin Shinawatra entry into the country.
Thaksin, who is in a self-impose exile, was ousted in a military coup in 2006 for power abuse and corruption.
The protesters led by Suthep, call Yingluck govt a puppet regime which works under the influence of Thaksin, and want her to step down and establish an unelected "people`s council".