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Violence warning as Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva calls election


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THAI Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has finally called a national election, but analysts warn that his decision could mean a return to the deadly violence that plagued the nation last year.


Mr Abhisit said yesterday he would seek King Bhumibol Adulyadej's endorsement to dissolve the lower house of parliament, setting the scene for an election by early July.


No date has yet been set for the election, but the Prime Minister said he would hold another press conference in Bangkok on Monday after he returned from an ASEAN summit in Jakarta.


Thailand is still in a state of flux after massive protests last year led to the worst political violence the nation has ever seen, pitting security forces against protesters and leaving 91 people dead, hundreds injured and many buildings torched.


Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist from Thailand's Chulalongkorn University, told The Weekend Australian more violence and volatility "are in the offing", noting that the grievances raised in last year's protests had not been addressed.


"Abhisit has not been a bridge-builder for reconciliation, but has actually inflamed the raw divisions in Thai society by doing the bidding of one side at the expense of the other," Dr Thitinan said.


"The campaign and election will see much commotion and contested procedures and results, blanketed by a climate of fear and intimidation involving violence."


The red-shirt protesters of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship have said they do not expect a fair election, and even if the red-supported Puea Thai party wins a majority of seats in the election, they do not expect a red-aligned government will be permitted to govern Thailand.


Red-shirt leader Nattuwut Saikua said he remembered how the last three red-aligned prime ministers were removed from government, beginning with the now exiled former prime minister and revered red-shirt leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006.


"In the past, we have never been the ones who refused to accept an election result," Mr Nattuwut said. "It's the other side who have refused."

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