It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the violence
which brought the death toll to 24, with scores wounded, since
protesters took to the streets in November in a bid to force Prime
Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office and erase the influence of
her brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck has resisted mounting pressure to step down and her "red
shirt" supporters have called for a mass rally in Bangkok on Sunday,
raising the risk of further confrontation.
"We received three (of the) injured protesters at the hospital. One
succumbed to a gunshot wound to the head," an official at
Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok told Reuters.
In a rare piece of good news for Yingluck, who is battling
negligence charges brought by the national anti-graft commission,
unofficial results of Thailand's weekend Senate election suggest a
Yingluck has been charged with dereliction of duty for her role in
overseeing a disastrous state rice-buying scheme that has run up
huge losses. Should the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC)
forward the case to the Senate for possible impeachment, she could
be removed from office.
That would require the votes of three-fifths of the senators.
Thailand's 150-seat Senate is made up of 77 elected senators. The
other 73 are appointed and are largely seen as opponents of the
Preliminary results released by the Election Commission on Monday
show winning candidates in the north and northeast, Thaksin
strongholds, are largely linked to the ruling Puea Thai Party and
Thaksin's now-defunct Thai Rak Thai party.
"Definitely the names we're seeing on the list of winners are mostly
pro-government, with ties to the ruling party and coalition party,"
Paiboon Nititawan, an appointed senator who has sided with
anti-government protesters in the past.
"It is not possible that the Senate will get the three-fifths of
votes needed to remove the prime minister."
While the Senate is officially non-partisan, the majority of the 77
elected seats were likely decided on the basis of endorsements from
powerful, party-affiliated institutions.
It remains unclear when the NACC will decide whether to forward
Yingluck's case to the Senate, dragging out weeks of uncertainty and
leaving Yingluck at the helm of a caretaker government with limited
And there is a further legal challenge. A group of 27 senators has
petitioned the Constitutional Court to rule that her removal of
National Security Chief Thawil Pliensree in 2011 violated the
constitution. A court ruling reinstated him last week.
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The Constitutional Court will decide on Wednesday whether to accept
"The anti-government side are plotting different ways to remove the
government," said political analyst Kan Yuenyong at Siam
Intelligence Unit think-tank.
"They will go at it from every angle they can, throwing legal
challenges at the prime minister until one sticks."
Yingluck defended herself on Monday against the negligence charges
and asked for time to submit evidence in her defence. The commission
extended the deadline on Tuesday but has yet to specify a time
Protesters first took to the streets to oppose an amnesty bill that
critics said would have allowed for Thaksin's return from
self-exile. The bill was eventually rejected by the Senate but
protests continued and new demands emerged.
Thailand has really been in crisis since Thaksin was ousted in a
2006 coup. The conflict broadly pits Bangkok's middle class and
conservative establishment against Yingluck and Thaksin's supporters
in the north and northeast.
Protesters disrupted a February 2 general election, halting voting
in parts of Bangkok and the south. The Constitutional Court
nullified the election last month, throwing Thailand into deeper
turmoil and leaving Yingluck in charge of a caretaker government
with severely restricted powers.
The protesters want to set up a "people's council" of unspecified
worthy people to force through political and electoral changes
before a new general election is held.
(Additional reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat;
editing by Nick Macfie)
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