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Thailand to deploy 100,000 police for election

07 june 2011, 16:32
The Royal Thai Police. ©Reuters
The Royal Thai Police. ©Reuters
Thailand will mobilise 100,000 police officers to guard polling stations for its July 3 general election, amid fears the vote could bring violence, AFP reports, citing the national police chief Tuesday.

The election will be the first since Thailand was rocked by its deadliest political violence in decades last year, when more than 90 people died in street clashes between armed police and opposition protesters.

"The Royal Thai Police will mobilise at least 100,000 police deployed at more than 90,000 polling stations across the country for the July 3 election," General Wichean Potephosree told reporters.

He said so far 256 candidates from the ruling Democrats and the main opposition Puea Thai party have sought police protection during campaigning and 540 police officers have been assigned to the task.

Last month police said they were seeking the 75 "most wanted" professional killers in Thailand, announcing a bounty of up to 100,000 baht ($3,300) each, in an attempt to boost security ahead of the poll.

The International Crisis Group think-tank has warned that the election could spark violence, and an opposition politician was shot and wounded in May in what the authorities said appeared to be a politically motivated attack.

The upcoming vote is shaping up to be a close fight pitting Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's establishment-backed Democrats against allies of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

Thaksin's youngest sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is Puea Thai's candidate for premier.

Parties linked to Thaksin have won the most seats in the past four elections, but the results of the last two were reversed by the courts.

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