Thai government supporters yesterday threw their backing behind upcoming elections in the protest-hit nation, warning that proposals from opposition rallies aimed at suspending the country’s democracy risked “absolute dictatorship”. Bangkok has been shaken by more than a month of mass opposition demonstrations aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and ridding the kingdom of the influence of her older brother, deposed former leader Thaksin. On Monday, Yingluck called an early election — set for February 2 — to try to calm the political turmoil. But opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban rejected the move, demanding the government step aside in favour of an unelected “people’s council”. The Red Shirt protest movement, which is largely loyal to Thaksin, urged people to take part in the vote, regardless of which party they support. “If you choose Suthep’s side, you choose absolute dictatorship,” Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikuea said at a press conference yesterday. “If you don’t accept what Suthep does you must cast a vote — this is not a mission for the Red Shirts alone, but the entire Thai people,” he said. Thailand has seen several bouts of political turmoil since Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006, with rival protests spilling into the streets in sometimes bloody unrest. The political conflict broadly pits a Bangkok-based middle class and royalist elite backed by the military against rural and working-class voters loyal to Thaksin.