Thailand’s government will deploy 10,000 police in the capital for Sunday’s election, which protesters have promised to disrupt as part of their drawn-out attempt to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The government decided on Tuesday to press ahead with the February 2 election, which the main opposition party plans to boycott and despite warnings that it could lead to more violence without resolving the country’s increasingly bitter political divide.
“I ask Bangkok residents to come out and vote,” Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung told reporters on Wednesday.
“The police will take care of security … Those who are thinking of going and shutting polling stations in the morning should think twice because the police will not allow them to.”
Protesters prevented early voting at many polling stations in Bangkok last Sunday.
They took to the streets in November in the latest eruption of a political conflict that has gripped Thailand for eight years. It broadly pits Bangkok’s middle class and royalist establishment against the mainly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile.
The protesters accuse Yingluck of being a puppet of Thaksin, a man they say is a corrupt crony capitalist who used taxpayers’ money to buy elections with costly populist giveaways.
Chalerm, who is in charge of a state of emergency imposed last week, told reporters about 10,000 police would be dispatched on Sunday to take care of security at the capital’s polling stations.
Even though Yingluck’s ruling party is certain to win, not enough candidates have been able to register to provide a quorum in the new parliament after the election.