Thai polls: Registration cancelled in 7 provinces

BANGKOK - Election officials in seven provinces in the South cancelled the first day of registration for constituency MP candidates yesterday after protesters laid siege to their offices. However, registration in the North, Northeast and Central areas continued without disruption.

In Bangkok, Pheu Thai Party candidates have already registered for all 33 constituencies. Pimchana Hosakul, wife of former Pheu Thai MP Karun Hosakul - who was banned from politics for five years - has registered to for Don Muang district.

The deadline for registration is Wednesday (January 1).

Apart from Pheu Thai, other parties like Chart Thai Pattana, Rak Thai and Prachakorn Thai, also showed up to register their candidates.

Police stepped up security at the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, where the registration was being held.

In Chiang Mai, Pheu Thai candidates registered in all 10 constituencies, with the party's chief strategist Somchai Wongsawat saying he was confident Pheu Thai would win an unprecedented number of seats as the opposition Democrat Party had boycotted the polls.

He said the Democrats had the right not to run in the election, but their boycott would not have much effect as there were up to 40 parties running in the polls.

In Songkhla, election officials in eight constituencies handed in their resignation after protesters broke into their offices and demanded that they quit.

Songkhla provincial Election Commission chief Chokchai Polwattana has called a meeting to find a solution to the problem.

In Trang, no candidates showed up to register after protesters broke into the gymnasium where the registration was to be held. Trang police chief Pol Maj-General Jeerawat Udomsud led a team of officers to bring the situation under control.

A similar problem occurred in Phatthalung when protesters blocked all entrances to the building where MP candidates were to register. One of the protesters, 59-year-old Charoon Panrai, said he was not against the election but wanted reforms to be put in place first.

Separately, a group under the People's Democratic Reform Committee for Songkhla's 16 districts has been calling on candidates to boycott the election, urging them to sacrifice for the country by allowing reform to take place first. The group blocked all entrances to the Tinsulanonda Stadium where the registration was to be held. So far, no names have been registered as no candidates showed up. But the group allowed police and EC officials to enter the site to carry out their duties.

In Satun, the number of protesters was not large enough to block MP registration. Candidates of two major parties were able to register for Constituency 1. They were Chart Thai Pattana's Thanin Chaisamut and Pheu Thai's Pol Maj-General Pichet Pitisettapan. At Constituency 2, only 100 protesters turned up but failed to stop the two parties' candidates from registering.

Meanwhile, the registration of candidates in Chumphon was postponed indefinitely as some provincial election officials resigned after about 300 PDRC protesters cut water and electricity and laid siege to the municipal office were registration was to be held.

About 50 police were deployed to maintain security, but were instructed to remain on the second and third floors of the building in order to prevent clashes.

Pheu Thai's Rujinat Srisuwan and Pracharaj's Kasem Thienthong showed up to register but had to be led out by police amid jeers and boos from the mob.

Chumphon EC official Nukul Klaewthanong and EC chief of the province's Constituency 1, Anan Maneerat, tendered their resignations yesterday for failing to carry out their duties.

In Udon Thani, Pol General Pracha Promnok led Pheu Thai MP candidates to register in nine constituencies amid a cold, lacklustre atmosphere with a marked absence of supporters or opponents. A Chart Thai Pattana Party candidate also showed up to register yesterday.