2:59 am - Saturday November 7, 2015

Thai protesters cut power to govt HQ, ask army to step in

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Thai govt rejects call to delay elections after clashes
Thai govt rejects call to delay elections after clashes

Bangkok – Thai opposition protesters on Thursday cut power and water supplies to the government headquarters and appealed to the powerful military to intervene to topple premier Yingluck Shinawatra amid a raging political crisis.

Suthep Thaugsuban, the anti-government leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has asked police and military chiefs to meet him by tonight and to choose their side.

However, Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said the military are yet to respond to the call for a talk, stressing their political neutrality.

Prayuth said he was yet to discuss with leaders of the armed forces and report to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck.

He said he was not empowered to make the decision and protesters should avoid pushing the armed forces into the middle of the current conflicts, the Nation reported.

“Justice is the most significant factor in solving the problems,” he said. The politically powerful army has staged or attempted 18 coups in the past 80 years, including the ousting of Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in 2006.

On Monday, Yingluck was forced to dissolve the lower house of the parliament and call an early election by February 2 as 160,000 protesters gathered around her office. The numbers on the street have dwindled considerably since the announcement.

For the past two weeks, thousands of protesters have marched in Bangkok in a bid to replace Yingluck with an unelected “People’s Council”.

The protesters, led by former deputy premier Suthep, accuse Yingluck of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother Thaksin.

The protesters are demanding that police should abandon the Government House immediately. Police attempts to negotiate have been rebuffed.

No officials, including Yingluck, were inside the compound at the time when power and water was cut today, police said.

“Some protesters and a third party have tried to escalate the situation,” police spokesman Piya Utayo said later in a televised statement.

Police have been ordered to stay and protect the building but to avoid clashes with the protesters. In a previous confrontation, police withdrew from the prime minister’s compound to allow the demonstrators in without a fight. That withdrawal came after two days of increasingly violent standoffs.

The protesters and security forces also observed a brief truce for two days last week to mark revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 86th birthday.

Since the latest unrest began last month, five people have died and nearly 300 injured so far.

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