Most polling stations in South fail to open

Most polling stations in South fail to open
A ballot box with only a few votes stand at a polling station as it gets shut down by Thai anti-government protesters in Bangkok on January 26, 2014.

THAILAND - Sunday's election hit a major snag in the southern region, with most polling stations there unable to operate.

Of 12,335 polling stations in the South, only 3,104 were able to open yesterday.

But the election went smoothly in the north and the northeast, the solid political support bases of the Yingluck Shinawatra-led government, which called the snap election.

The anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which is led by Suthep Thaugsuban, has called on its supporters to press for political reform before an election is held.

A huge number of southern residents have thrown their support behind the PDRC, with many of them turning out in full force to thwart the snap election in their home provinces.

The south is also a stronghold of the Democrat Party, which boycotted yesterday's election.

"Not a single polling station was able to open in nine southern provinces," Election Commission (EC) deputy secretary general Thanis Sriprathes said yesterday.

In Songkhla, the PDRC members have surrounded the Hat Yai Post Office for days to block distribution of ballots and ballot boxes. Without these tools, polling stations could not open in many southern provinces yesterday.

In most provinces in the region, no officials turned out to man the polling stations anyway.

All polling stations in Trang, Songkhla, Phatthalung, Chumphon, Ranong, Surat Thani, Phang Nga, Phuket and Krabi remained closed.

Thanis added that some polling stations in five other provinces - Prachuap Khiri Khan, Satun, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Yala and Pattani - were also closed.

Some polling stations shut down in the presence of protesting PDRC members, who showed up nearby.

No party-list ballots were cast at any of the southern polling stations that managed to open yesterday, because the papers had been blocked from distribution at the Hat Yai Post Office.

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