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Thai election body suggests postponement of upcoming poll

BANGKOK -- Thailand's Election Commission on Thursday warned of potential unrest at upcoming polls, suggesting a postponement as thousands of anti-government protesters marched through the capital.

The independent body called for talks between the administration of embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and demonstrators, who have vowed to disrupt the Feb. 2 vote.

Yingluck called the snap election last week to try to defuse a weeks-long political crisis, which has seen opposition protesters massing on the streets of Bangkok.

But the protesters say it would only usher in another government backed by controversial former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother.

They accuse the ousted leader of controlling her behind the scenes and call for the democratic system to be suspended in favor of a reforming “people's council.”

“The EC expects the election on February 2 will cause unrest, so holding the poll on that date is not appropriate,” said EC commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, adding that officials would organise the vote if parties “insist” on going ahead.

Thousands of people marched through the capital on Thursday in a noisy procession of whistle-blowing, flag-waving protesters.

One faction briefly gathered outside the United States embassy, facing off against lines of riot police and voicing anger at Washington's support for the democratic process.

“When you come to live here, you have to learn our traditions and respect Thailand,” said one protest leader, Nititorn Lamleu, from a makeshift stage on the back of a truck.

“If you use Thai soil to trade with Yingluck's government... I will campaign for Thais across the country to oust you and your embassy from Thailand,” he added, in comments apparently aimed at U.S. ambassador Kristie Kenney.

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