Thai poll body urges election delay after clashes

Thai poll body urges election delay after clashes

BANGKOK - Thailand's election commission urged the government Thursday to postpone February polls after a police officer was killed and dozens of people were wounded in clashes between security forces and opposition protesters in Bangkok.

The violence deepened the crisis facing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose government has been shaken by weeks of mass street rallies seeking to curb her family's political dominance.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets after demonstrators tried to force their way into a sports stadium in the capital where representatives of about 30 political parties were gathered for the registration process for the February 2 election.

More than 60 people were injured, according to the emergency services. One police officer died of a gunshot wound.

"He was shot in his chest and brought to hospital by helicopter," said Jongjet Aoajenpong, director of the Police General Hospital. "A team of doctors tried to resuscitate him for more than half an hour."

As the violence escalated, the Election Commission held a news conference to recommend the February 2 polls be delayed indefinitely.

"We cannot organise free and fair elections under the constitution in the current circumstances," said commission member Prawit Rattanapien, who along with other vote officials had to be evacuated from the stadium by helicopter.

The main opposition Democrat Party - which has not won an elected majority in about two decades - has vowed to boycott the February election.

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