Steps up protests in south, elsewhere in move to force scrapping of election
WITH THE anti-government rally in Bangkok now being held under a state of emergency, People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) supporters elsewhere, especially in the South, yesterday stepped up pressure on the Election Commission (EC) to call off the general election next month.
In Songkhla’s Muang district, PDRC demonstrators surrounded the Border Patrol Police Region 4 (Ramkhamhaeng Camp), where Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn and his team were meeting with Songkhla EC director Chokchai Phonwattana and officials to discuss preparations for Sunday’s advance balloting and the February 2 vote.
Chokchai said some state offices and the community centre would be used as venues. However, applications for running in the constituency MP race could not be completed yet due to the protest.
He said he and other officials were worried that chaos could break out on election day due to protests.
Somchai urged everyone to perform his duty and keep the central office posted about the protest situation until election day for better assessment.
The protesters then called for Somchai to come out in person to accept their request for “reform before election”, and accept a flower basket. However, he sent a representative instead reportedly because his position required him to be impartial. The protesters later marched back to their base in front of Songkhla City Hall.
In the afternoon, Somchai was subjected to more boos and whistles as he inspected preparations for advance voting in Phatthalung and was told by the provincial EC director that some documents went missing because they were forced to move operations three times.
In Narathiwat’s Sungai Kolok district, 2,500 PDRC protesters marched to the district public health office, municipality office and district office to invite officials to stop working for three days.
The group reportedly wanted to prevent household-registration officials from distributing voter lists to the 77 polling stations in the district.
In Yala, PDRC protesters encouraged officials to leave City Hall as they blocked the premises’ four entrances.
The protesters also marched to the provincial offices of the departments of Livestock Development and Irrigation and the Rubber Replanting Aid Fund, as well as the TOT branch in Muang Yala, to seek their closures.
In Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Muang district, schools were shut by protesters, who were joined by students and parents, as well as state offices – except for police stations and hospitals.
Similar protests could also be seen in Chon Buri, Samut Prakan’s Bang Phli district, Ratchaburi and Trang.