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Thai PM forced to flee

Bangkok, May 15 (Reuters): A Thai general election is unlikely to go ahead in July after renewed unrest, officials said today, as the acting prime minister was forced by protesters to flee a meeting with electoral officers and gunmen killed three people in Bangkok.

The turmoil comes as a government loyal to ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra squares off with opponents backed by the royalist establishment over who should be Prime Minister in the latest phase of nearly a decade of rivalry.

Anti-government protesters broke into the grounds of an air force compound where acting Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan was meeting the Election Commission to fix a date for new polls, which had been tentatively set for July 20.

Commission member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn later told Reuters that date now looked improbable. “We may have to push back the polls,” he said.

The government sees a general election as the best way out of a crisis that threatens to tip southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy into recession. Its enemies know the ruling party would be highly likely to win a poll and want electoral changes aimed at ending the influence of Thaksin before a vote is held.

 
 
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