Even as the anti-government demonstrations took on a violent hue on Wednesday with the gunshots being fired on the protesters, Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that the Feb 2 elections will go ahead as scheduled.
“The rights of the people are important,” said the PM, who had earlier proposed to hold talks with the opposition protest leader to discuss a proposal by the Election Commission about the postponement of the elections.
However, the protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and the opposition Democrat Party rejected any negotiations as they want the PM to quit and establish an unelected “People’s Council”.
Speaking to the reporters, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana said that the government believed that the election will placate the situation.
“The elections would bring the situation back to normal,” he said. “We can see that the support of Mr Suthep is declining. When he is doing something against the law, most people do not support that.”
The PM’s statement came as the shutdown stretched into third day which was marked by gunshots fired at the demonstrators.
Two were hurt in the gun attack, one man and another – a woman, who got hurt in the arm, according to the reports.
The gun attack is the first violent incident since a shutdown was launched by the protesters on Monday with an aim to topple the caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra ahead of the elections.
In another such incident, an explosive was lobbed into the residential compound of ex-PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, who was not present there at that time.
The shutdown is the latest chapter in Thailand’s unrest that was triggered last year in November when the government attempted to pass Amnesty law, which would have made it possible for the PM’s brother Thaksin Shinwatra to return to Bangkok.
Thaksin Shinawatra, who is now in a self-imposed exile, was ousted in 2006 in a coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power.
The protesters allege that the current government is being run as a puppet regime by PM’s brother Thaksin Shinawatra.
PM Yingluck Shinawatra had dissolved the parliament in December and proposed fresh elections scheduled for Feb 2 to appease the protesters. However, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban rejected the elections saying that it won’t bring any change as Thaksin regime will still remain in place.
Meanwhile, yesterday the PM wrote on Twitter that she will not resign as she had to protect democracy and the democracy belonged to all the people of Thailand.
Speaking to the reporters, she said, “I have a duty to act according to my responsibility after the dissolution of Parliament… I am not holding on (to my position) but I have to keep political stability. I’m doing my duty to preserve democracy.”
On the other hand, stepping up the pressure on her to quit, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban threatened to close all government offices.
He further warned that protesters would take custody of the PM and all other ministers if Yingluck Shinawatra remained adamant on not quitting.
In wake of the shutdown, the PM also offered to hold negotiations with the protest leaders regarding an Election Commission proposal of postponing the elections.
However, Suthep ruled out any negotiations with the government.
Speaking to the protesters from Bangkok’s Democracy Monument , he roared that the elections would result not in a “win-win situation, but only one win referring to that of the Thaksin regime.
“The people cannot negotiate … there is no win-win situation, there is only win,” he said.
“You cannot mediate with this undertaking, you cannot compromise with this undertaking,” he said.
Over tens of thousands of protesters, who had blocked all the major roads leading to Bangkok and seized key intersections on the maiden day of shutdown, camped out at the streets of the capital overnight and slept under mosquito nets.
The demonstrators had occupied the Customs Department, Commerce Ministry and Labor Ministry on Tuesday.
At least 8 people have been killed in the violence in last two months as Thailand is witnessing one of the biggest demonstrations since 2010 when 90 people had been killed.