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Tents, protesters greet candidates at poll registration site

THE ATMOSPHERE at the Thai-Japanese Stadium yesterday, on the first day of registration of party-list candidates for the next election, was the opposite of the boisterous cheery scenes of recent years.

On past registration days we have seen party supporters in colourful outfits and people holding posters and banners. But this time there were no cheer squads giving moral support.

In their place were anti-government protesters, who marched to the venue from their Rajdamnoen Avenue rally site on Sunday night.

Journalists, meanwhile, were also prevented from getting in or out of the stadium's gymnasium, the registration venue, after 6am. About 40 were eventually allowed to leave at about 2pm, while the last group was released at 4.30pm.

The atmosphere in front of the stadium was very different early yesterday, with some protesters still asleep in their tents but the majority of them sitting in front of all the gates to try to block party representatives seeking to list their candidates.

Despite the protesters' blockade at the stadium gates, representatives from nine political parties, including Pheu Thai, successfully entered the compound and submitted their registration documents.

The New Democracy Party's team was the first to enter, at 3am, followed by Chart Pattana Party members at 3.30am, and Chart Thai Pattana Party, which entered the venue at 5.32am, and others.

The Pheu Thai Party team arrived at the venue at 4am and submitted its nominees, with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as its No 1 party-list candidate, followed by her brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat at No 2.

At noon, the Farmer Network of Thailand Party became the last to enter and submit documents, after filing a complaint at Din Daeng Police Station that it had been blocked from entering.

The Election Commission (EC) said about half of its officials had been able to enter the compound, but they were ready to receive applications from more political parties.

Some 24 political parties filed complaints at Din Daeng Police Station, and one at the Crime Suppression Police Division, in line with the EC's request that parties that cannot enter the stadium should file charges to protect their registration rights.

After learning that some parties planned to file complaints, some protesters marched to the local police station to try to block them, refusing to allow anybody from political parties to enter or leave the building.

One representative of the Rak Prachatipatai Party had to take off his party jacket and put |it in his bag in order to get out of the station.

Yanee, a woman who marched from Rajdamnoen and slept in front of the stadium on Sunday night, said political reforms should be implemented before the election is held.

Chuththan, a housewife from Hua Hin, said she joined with protesters to block the stadium because she wanted to see reforms before the election in order to break the "cycle of corruption".

Similarly, Num, a man who spent Sunday night in front of Gate 2 of the stadium, said he wanted to see reform before the election, in order to destroy the "Thaksin regime". His house was very near the stadium but he had decided to sleep there because he wanted to give moral support to protesters who had come from other provinces, he said.




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