May.21 - Thailand's Election Commission considers the caretaker government's proposal for an Aug. 3 election, as doubts grew that polls could be held smoothly despite the imposition of martial law to calm street violence. Sarah Toms reports.
One day after martial law was announced and Thai troops have retreated from the centre of the capital. They are monitoring main roads leading to and from Bangkok...and television stations. The army chief is meeting leaders of rival political groups and parties to find a solution to the political deadlock. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) ANOTHER DEPUTY ARMY SPOKESMAN SRICHAN NGATHONG SAYING: "We have invited many groups and many factions who play a major role in the country to send five representatives to discuss a way out. The groups include the caretaker senate speaker, the chairman of the Election Commission, the head of the Puea Thai party, the head of the Democrat party, the secretary of People's Democratic Reform Committee, and the chairman of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship." The army insists it's not a coup. It says it intervened to preserve law and order after months of pro-government and opposition protests have left nearly 30 people dead. The streets are calm and protesters accept martial law for now. But doubts are growing that an early election could be held smoothly, despite these troops on the streets. The caretaker government wants an election that it would probably win early in August. But these anti-government protesters -- are opposed and don't see it as a way out of the crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTER, JINDA PUMPHOTHONG, 68, SAYING: "I think that we have to win this fight because a lot of our supporters have come out, while the government is no longer a government. We need a new set of rules and regulations." While in another part of town the government's "red shirt" activists warn of trouble if the caretaker administration is ousted -- a message to the military to tread carefully or risk igniting a civil war.