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PDRC plans to block advance voting

The anti-government protesters will try to disrupt advance voting for the February 2 election in Bangkok on Sunday, an informed source said yesterday.

Leaders of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) will decide today whether they should block the roads leading to the polling stations or besiege the polling stations, making it impossible for voters to cast their ballots, a PDRC source said.

"The decision on one of the two choices will be made [today]. The operation will definitely take place on Sunday," the source said.

This PDRC "operation" will be implemented mainly in Bangkok, according to the source, who added that protesters in the provinces might also try to disrupt advance voting locally.

A venue for advance voting - mostly district offices - has been designated in each of the capital's 50 districts.

The Constitutional Court will rule today on whether the election will be held on February 2, and on whether any government agencies or the Election Commission (EC) have the authority to set a new date, amid the caretaker government's continued strong push for the poll to be held as scheduled.

The court decided yesterday to take the EC's petition into its consideration and will make a ruling today. It must act quickly because advance polling is due to take place on Sunday.

The Constitutional Court has jurisdiction to rule on these issues, as two state authorities are in conflict.

The EC has proposed that the election be rescheduled for May, as it cannot make voting go smoothly because of the anti-government protests in Bangkok and some other provinces, especially in the South. The government disagrees and insists the election must be held on the original schedule, saying the Constitution does not allow for a new date or delay.

To push its case, the caretaker government has asked the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) to cooperate with the poll agency to keep order during advance voting on Sunday, PM's secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva said after a special meeting of the Cabinet yesterday.

A state of emergency was imposed in Bangkok and its outskirts on Wednesday. The government set up the CMPO to take care of the situation.

In a related development, caretaker Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday told the military's top brass at a Defence Council meeting to instruct their subordinates to exercise their voting rights, Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng said.

Election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said he feared that after the poll, lawsuits would be filed seeking its nullification because voting will fail to be held on the same day nationwide, as required by the law.

Currently, there are no candidates registered in 28 constituencies in the South.


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