Thailand’s army chief on Friday called for calm amid unrest between supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, but he refused to rule out the possibility of a military coup to restore stability.
Asked whether the army would seize the government for the second time in less than a decade, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said: “That door is neither open nor closed … it will be determined by the situation.”
His remarks came a day after police in the capital, Bangkok, battled with anti-government protesters, leaving two people dead and more than 140 injured, according to The Associated Press.
The opposition — which has been soundly defeated in national elections in recent years — is seeking to oust the elected government and replace it with an unelected “people’s council.” The opposition has also made overtures to the military, which in 2006 toppled the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother.
Earlier this month, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban met with the heads of the army and police forces, raising the specter of another coup.
In response to the protests, Yingluck has dissolved parliament and scheduled elections for February. Protesters oppose the elections and sought on Thursday to disrupt preparations for polls by attacking a sports stadium in Bangkok where candidates were filing election papers.
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