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Anti-government protesters block advance voting in Thailand

Sunday, 26 January 2014 - 1:19pm IST | Place: Bangkok | Agency: PTI

Chaos marked the advance voting for Thailand's snap elections as anti-government protesters today blocked several venues here and polling stations, resulting in cancellations of the voting in many areas of the capital.

As of 11 am local time only seven out of 50 advance polling stations in Bangkok remained open, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Clerk Ninnart Chalitanont said.

Elections in several areas were cancelled.

Advance voting for February 2 snap polls in other provinces is expected to proceed as scheduled.

Election Commission Secretary-General Puchong Nutrawong said the advance voting in the north, the northeast and the central of the country started and continued without problems while those in Bangkok and the south were blocked.

These two areas are strongholds of the opposition Democrat Party which has been holding protest marches for over two months in the capital calling or Prime Minister Yingluck Shibawatra to step down.

Nutrawong said staff at the election units would be authorised to closely monitor and evaluate the situation.

The opposition Democrat party, which has not won polls in two decades, has been venting its ire against the Yingluck government for two months holding protest marches here.

The protesters want Yingluck and her brother former premier Thaksin Shinawatra out of Thai politics. Thaksin was overthrown in a coup in 2006 and is in self-exile in Dubai.

Many Bangkok residents support the protests and said they were not affected by the road closures.

The protesters arrived this morning at many polling stations hours before the stations were opened for voting at 8.30 a.m. Some were seen arriving as early as 5 a.m.

Veera Yeephare, director of Bangkok's Election Commission, said voters who registered to vote in advance and failed to vote today can cast their ballots on February 2.

Advance voting is being held for those who are unable to cast their vote on February 2.

Officials and volunteers manning polling stations have been advised to stop the voting and evacuate themselves if protesters besieged the venues during the advance voting.

Meanwhile, the head of the government's Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order yesterday warned the anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban that his arrest was imminent "in the near future" and asked him to surrender. 

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