Clashes break out in Thai capital
Clashes have erupted between anti-government protesters and police forces in the Thai capital of Bangkok, as the Southeast Asian country braces for elections.
Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas during the early hours of Thursday to break up crowds of protesters standing outside a gymnasium, where candidates were gathering for a draw on their position on polling papers. The protesters, some 500 in number, attempted to disrupt the process.
The police forces fired rounds when the protesters tried to break down a fence after being warned against entering the building. There have been no reports of injuries.
At the time of the confrontation, representatives of a number of parties planning to take part in the elections were reportedly inside the building.
Similar protests and clashes have taken place in the Thai capital over the past few days.
The main opposition Democrat Party has declared a boycott of the snap polls.
Protests in Bangkok began on October 31, when the government proposed an amnesty bill that would have cleared Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of the current prime minister, of corruption convictions.
Thaksin is said to be the power behind the current government and has been in self-imposed exile since 2006, when he was ousted in a military coup. He faces a jail term over his convictions if he returns.
On November 11, the upper house of the Thai parliament rejected the controversial bill amid growing outrage on the streets.
The Thursday clashes come a day after the Thai cabinet voted to extend by an additional two months the Internal Security Act, which allows police forces to ban gatherings, block roads, conduct searches, and impose curfews.
On December 25, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra proposed the formation of a national reform council tasked with resolving the recent unrest in the country.
Yingluck has remained a caretaker premier despite months of anti-government protests and calls on her to step down from power.