Mass Thai protests against the government have boycotted advance voting for this weekend’s elections, as protesters besieged polling stations in Bangkok on Sunday, forcing most of them to close.
Over two million people are expected to express their vote on February 2 elections, which was a solution found by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to try to defuse rising political tensions after weeks of mass anti-government protests.
Protesters surrounded polling stations in Bangkok and other several southern provinces and prevented ballot officials from coming in. Election authorities shut at least 45 venues, according to the international press.
There were no major violence acts reported.
“I am here to prevent people from voting,” said 64-year-old Amornchock, giving one name, at a Bangkok polling station. “I am not against democracy, I am not against elections, but they have to be fair.”
“I came to protect my rights,” added 75-year-old Vipa Yoteepitak. “We can not let this happen, if we do not fight today (to vote), we will keep losing our rights.”
Demonstrators want to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s elected government and install an unelected “people’s council” to implement reforms which they hope will rid Thailand of the influence of ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra — Yingluck’s older brother.
The protests are lasting for almost three months, during which nine people died and hundreds have been injured.