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Thai government, election agency postpone talks over security worry

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A meeting between Thailand’s interim prime minister and the Election Commission to fix a date for polls that the government hopes will break a stalemate was postponed on Wednesday due to security concern over the venue, a commission official said.

The government sees the polls as the best way out of a protracted crisis that has brought sporadic violence to the streets of Bangkok, threatened to tip the economy into recession and even raised fears of civil war.

But the government’s opponents would probably reject a general election anyway in the belief the ruling party would win it. They want electoral reform aimed at ending the influence of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra before another vote.

“The government has asked to delay the meeting due to security concerns over the venue location,” said Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn told reporters. “We will meet with the government tomorrow at a different venue.”

Government spokesmen were not available for comment.

Somchai did not elaborate but the talks were planned at a government complex in north Bangkok near an anti-government protest site occupied by more radical demonstrators.

The turmoil that began with the eruption of anti-government protest six months ago is the latest phase in nearly 10 years of hostility between the royalist establishment and Thaksin, a former telecommunications billionaire who won huge support among the rural and urban poor but angered the Bangkok-based elite. He was deposed by the military in a 2006 coup.


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