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    Jan 16, 2014

    Thai PM stands firm on polls, 2 hurt in shooting


    THAILAND'S government yesterday stuck to a plan for an election next month, despite mounting pressure from protesters who have caused parts of Bangkok to come to a near-standstill.

    Some hardline protesters have threatened to blockade the stock exchange and an air-traffic-control facility if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra does not step down by a deadline that the media said was set for yesterday at 8pm.

    Ms Yingluck invited protest leaders and political parties to discuss a proposal to delay the general election, which she has called for Feb 2, but her opponents snubbed her invitation.

    She reiterated her concerns that the Constitution does not allow a postponement of the polls.

    "If people don't want this government, they should go out and vote," she said.

    Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana said: "We can see that the support for (protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban) is declining. When he is doing something against the law, most people do not support that."

    Tensions flared overnight after two people were slightly wounded in a shooting by unknown gunmen at an anti-government rally in Bangkok's commercial district.

    Late on Tuesday, a small bomb or firecracker was hurled at a house belonging to the family of opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, a former prime minister who faces a murder charge for a deadly military crackdown on street protests when he was in office in 2010.

    Nobody was injured.

    Protesters blocked key intersections in the capital for a third straight day, but there was more traffic on the roads, in a possible sign that the attempted "shutdown" was losing momentum.

    There were no signs of trouble at the stock exchange and the air-traffic-control facility.