Protesters hurt as police tear gas halts poll venue intrusion

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BANGKOK, Dec 26 – Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets this morning to prevent anti-government protesters from storming into Thailand’s elections registration venue to obstruct the party numbers lots-drawing session, injuring a number of protesters.

The Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (NSPRT) led by Uthai Yodmanee, a splinter group of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), brought some protesters and three sound trucks from the protesters base at the Chamai Maruchet Bridge near Government House to the Thai-Japanese sports stadium.

The protesters tried to break into the stadium as the election party number lots-drawing session was underway inside the building.

They defied police warnings, using bolt cutters to break the chain locking the gate. Some hurled objects at police and then police started firing tear gas and rubber bullets at them around 7.30am.

Tear gas fired intermittently by police forced protesters to flee and sought cover in nearby buildings, and many protesters were injured by the gas.

Three police officers were also hurt by teargas fired by fellow officers and sent to Police General Hospital.

Inside the gymnasium, the venue for registration of party-list candidates, the Election Commission completed the election party number lots-drawing session.

Representatives form 32 political parties attended the process.

In a national televised address, Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, in his capacity as director of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), said police needed to use tear gas to protect election candidates and state officials as the protesters tried to obstruct the party-list candidacy registration.

Mr Surapong said the protest was not peaceful as claimed earlier by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban. He emphasised that the police applied international standards in carrying out their duties and protecting state property from being vandalised.