Thai ruling party to launch election bid amid protests
BANGKOK (AFP) - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's party is due on Saturday to kick off campaigning for controversial elections boycotted by the opposition and rejected by anti-government protesters preparing to "shut down" Bangkok.
The Puea Thai party will launch its bid for re-election next month with rallies in its northern heartlands and on the outskirts of the capital, which has been shaken by weeks of sometimes violent demonstrations that have left eight people dead and about 400 wounded.
"I am confident that the campaign will go smoothly - we are not the ones triggering conflict," said party leader Jarupong Ruangsuwan, adding that the election slogan would be urging people to vote to "preserve democracy".
Ms Yingluck called snap elections after coming under intense pressure from demonstrators vowing to rid the country of the influence of her brother - controversial former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is widely believed to control her party from self-exile in Dubai.