|People perform dragon dances during a rally at Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 16, 2014. As part of the "Bangkok shutdown" the protesters have surrounded a dozen of government premises in the heart of the capital and its northern suburbs, forcing government staff to quit and denying people's access to them. (Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak)
BANGKOK, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- A "Bangkok shutdown," which on Friday elapsed into a fifth day in sheer violation of the law by anti-government protesters, might probably last until Feb. 2 -- the date scheduled for a nationwide election, said a high-level government official on Friday.
National Security Council chief Paradorn Patanatabut said the prolonged street protests, headed by former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban and several ex-legislators of the Democrat Party, might probably be going on until the polling date because they apparently meant to disrupt the electoral process and force acting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and members of the caretaker cabinet to step down.
Calling themselves the People's Democratic Reform Committee, the protest leaders have however persisted that the elected caretaker government be replaced by an unelected one, pending large-scale "reforms" of the country.
Paradorn said he was concerned over possibilities that street violence might occur to the protesters or police and unrests might prevail at polling units.
"Unknown third hands who might perpetrate in support of any party could possibly sow street violence and sabotage the polls," he said.
The anti-government protesters have continued on the "Bangkok shutdown" since Monday by occupying major intersections, paralyzing traffic in the heart of the capital including business districts as Sukhumvit, Silom and Patumwan, and laying siege to more government premises to force personnel to quit working and deny public access of them.
The caretaker government, of which the Pheu Thai (for Thais) Party is core, and other political parties vying in the election have decided to keep the polling date unchanged despite the prolonged street protests and an official dissent by the Election Commission which had asked to put it off until early May.
The polling agency had anticipated that unrests and violence might probably occur to its officials and those going to the polls on Feb. 2.
Suthep has threatened to have his followers take custody of Yingluck to depose her from power. Security for the caretaker prime minister was stepped up at the Office of Undersecretary of Defense in Muangtong Thani area where she held a meeting with high- level government officials in charge of security on Friday.
Hundreds of anti-government protesters moved from a nearby Chaeng Wattana area to a spot close to the Office of Undersecretary of Defense. They threatened to take custody of the acting prime minister while police and soldiers stood on high alert to guard the premise.
Meanwhile, a police mission has been prepared to arrest Suthep for whom a rebellion charge and arrest warrant have already been issued. He was known to be protected by about 40 guards, believed to be hiddenly armed, according to the police.
The police did not say how soon such a mission will be put to work while Yingluck repeatedly vowed to never use force against the protesters.
Undersecretary of Defense Gen Nipat Thonglek has instructed commanding officers of the army, navy and air force to see to it that none of their subordinates may be hired as guards for any protest leaders or be actively involved in the street protests.
"Any unbecoming act of soldiers will not only breach military discipline but cause dishonors and damages to the armed forces as a whole. Those found to have carried weapons without permission will not only be punished disciplinarily but be faced with criminal charges," he said.
Several army and navy officers were already found to have acted as guards for the protest leaders and arrested in unpermitted possession of handguns.
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