Government: No delay in elections in Thailand

Dec. 26, 2013 at 8:00 PM

BANGKOK, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Postponing upcoming parliamentary elections, a step urged by Thailand's Election Commission, would not be constitutional, the government said Thursday.

The commissioners made the recommendation after being forced to escape protesters Thursday aboard a helicopter. Several groups of people, including the five members of the commission, were evacuated from a sports stadium Thursday where they were registering candidates for elections scheduled for Feb. 2, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkarnchana said any delay is impossible, CNN reported.

"The reform process can be done simultaneously with coming elections," he said.

Demonstrations later in the day were peaceful, CNN said. But the U.S. Embassy issued an emergency warning that even peaceful protests can "turn confrontational and escalate into violence," telling U.S. citizens to stay alert and follow news reports.

Earlier in the day, protesters gathered at the stadium, firing metal bolts from slingshots at police, the newspaper said. Security forces responded by firing tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon.

The commissioners said an election "might not be possible" amid the current violence.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved Parliament Dec. 9 and scheduled elections for February. She said reforms would come after the elections, but protesters want the change instituted prior to the polls.

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