Thai government asks army to secure election

Thai government asks army to secure election
FIle photo of a Thai anti riot policeman (C) stand guard at a stadium in Bangkok on December 27, 2013.

BANGKOK - The Thai government appealed to the military Friday to provide security for February elections after violent clashes between police and opposition protesters left two people dead and more than 150 wounded.

With tensions running high in the capital, the army chief refused to rule out a coup, saying "anything can happen".

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government has pledged to go ahead with the polls in the hope of calming weeks of mass street demonstrations seeking to curb her family's political dominance.

The protesters have vowed to block the vote, saying it will only return the Shinawatra clan to power.

A policeman and a civilian died of gunshots fired by unknown assailants while 153 people were injured after violence erupted Thursday when demonstrators tried to force their way into an election registration venue.

The security forces denied using live ammunition.

Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said he would ask the armed forces supreme commander for help with security for a second round of registration for constituency candidates due to begin around the country on Saturday.

"I will also ask the military to provide security protection for members of the public on the February 2 election date," he said in a nationally televised address.

The army chief insisted Friday that the military would remain neutral and said it was up to the election authorities whether the vote could go ahead.

"Don't bring us into the middle of the conflict," General Prayut Chan-O-Cha said when asked if the army would send soldiers to guard polling stations.

But he did not rule out another coup.

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