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Thailand government plays down coup threat ahead of protester 'shutdown'

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Thailand government plays down coup threat ahead of protester 'shutdown'
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Pro-election supporters have gathered for a candlelight vigil in the Thai capital Bangkok ahead a planned shutdown of the city next week by anti-government protesters.

Many turned out on Friday as they fear Thailand’s increasingly volatile political situation could set the stage for a military coup before a poll scheduled for February 2.

One man at the rally said: “I want to make clear my support for an election, I want to show I’m for democracy in Thailand so that the country can move forward.”

But, anti-government protesters have vowed to paralyse Bangkok until Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra steps down, and her government is replaced with an unelected ‘People’s Council.’

“We have to be very careful at this moment in time because we currently have the perfect conditions for a coup d’etat: There’s the potential for violent protests, political gridlock, corruption and the chance that royalty could be insulted,’‘ said analyst Panithan Wattanayakorn from Chulalongkorn University.

On Friday, Thailand’s government played down the speculation that the military step in.

It came the same day as clashes broke out near Bangkok between pro- and anti-government groups leaving six people injured, three seriously.