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Protest leader shot to death in Thailand

An anti-government protest leader was killed in Bangkok on Sunday. Suthin Thararin, a protest leader for the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) [Facebook page], was shot to death [Reuters report] in front of the Sri Eiam Temple in Bangkok while demonstrators blocked a voting station, according to Police Col. Thawatkiat Jindakuansanong. On Friday, a Thai court ruled [NY Times report] that elections scheduled for next month could be postponed. Police said that Thararin's death came after protesters blocked a voting station and shut it down when officials agreed to suspend the voting. Nine others were injured in the shooting. More than 45 polling stations have been closed to due obstructions made by protesters from the PDRC. Thai authorities declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] last week, giving extra power to security forces in response to the escalating violence as protesters blockaded sections of the capital.

Thai politics have been in a contentious state since the ousting of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC backgrounder] by a military coup [JURIST op-ed] in 2006. In December Thai officials rejected [JURIST report] calls to postpone the upcoming February elections but protesters have continued to advocate for a delay and have stepped up their demonstrations in response to this latest ruling by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). In November Thailand's Constitutional Court declared [JURIST report] the proposal to amend the nation's constitution illegal and that many legislators had acted illegally in trying to force its passing. The NACC's ruling on the conduct of the legislators themselves is the latest culmination on the issue. Thai opposition groups have sought help [JURIST report] in trying to overthrow the current government and it is yet unclear what effect this ruling affecting 308 pro-government legislators will have on their success in doing so.

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