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Officials told to stop vote if protesters besiege venue

Officials and volunteers manning polling stations have been advised to stop the voting process and evacuate themselves if protesters besiege the venues during today's advance voting.

Election Commission (EC) secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said staff at the election units would be authorised to closely monitor and evaluate the situation.

And they would be able to announce a halt to the voting process if they found the election units blocked or there was serious obstruction in transportation. The central EC would consider holding another advance voting within seven days.

Puchong also said the EC had issued a statement warning the authorities who announced or would announce the orders under the emergency decree to be careful not to violate the Constitution by causing advantages or disadvantages to the election candidates.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) also has advised its officials at central polling stations to vacate the places in case of unrest or riot there, according to Ninnart Chalitanont, the BMA's permanent secretary. She said that it was part of the security measures for officials involved in organising the advance voting today and the election scheduled for February 2.

Advance voting today at Bangkok's 50 districts will be held mostly at district offices.

'Be prepared'

Ninnart said the officials involved were instructed to get vehicles ready for immediate movement of important equipment and documents relating to voting out of the polling stations, when a blockade by protesters becomes imminent.

In case such a movement of equipment and documents is unlikely, the officials involved should leave the polling stations immediately for their safety. She said that the safety of the officials involved should be regarded as the top priority.

Advance voting will open from 8am to 3pm at 50 designated locations around the city. Ninnart said that eligible voters who are unable to exercise their voting right today during the advance voting session may do so on the election date later, at the polling stations where their names are registered.

In Bangkok, the election venues expected to be blockaded by the protesters include district offices in Pathum Wan, Ratchathewi, Chatuchak and Din Daeng as well as Sukhothai School in Dusit district, which is near the protest site of Students and People's Network for Thailand’s Reform.

Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda is expected to cast his ballot in advance voting today at Sukhothai School in the Dusit district of Bangkok.


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