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Thailand protesters not to obstruct advance voting

Posted on Jan 25 2014 | IANS

Bangkok, Jan 25 : Thai protests leader Suthep Thaugsuban said his supporters will not "block" advance voting Sunday for next week's general elections.

"We will not block the election but we will persuade everyone in front of polling stations to jointly reform Thailand instead of exercising their voting rights," said Suthep Thaugsuban, chairman of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Suthep urged protesters to arrive at the polling stations early in the morning on the advance voting day, the Bangkok Post reported Saturday.

The PDRC would campaign Sunday for reforms before the elections but not disrupt the polling, said Suthep.

He said there are only 50 polling stations in the capital for advance voting, it should be easy for the PDRC protesters to be present at all of them.

The election commission said more than two million people had registered to vote early. Those eligible include students and migrant workers who are unable to return home on election day Feb 2.

The protesters want the prime minister to step down. Since November, they have been taking to the streets and occupying government offices, calling for reforms before the elections.

In order to control the ongoing political protests, the Thai government had imposed Emergency Jan 21 in Bangkok and some nearby areas for two months.

Earlier, Thailand's constitution court ruled Friday that the elections can be postponed in view of the ongoing political unrest following anti-government protests that began in November last year.

But the government said the vote would go ahead, despite the court ruling.

The opposition, which resigned from parliament in December, has said it would boycott the elections.

The protesters have enforced a Bangkok shutdown since Jan 13, erecting roadblocks at several intersections, although a number of protesters have been severely injured in bomb attacks Jan 17 and 19.

Suthep and other PDRC leaders also wrote to US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to explain their plans and ideas to them.

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