Voting ends in Thailand amid continuing tensions | News | DW | 02.02.2014
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Voting ends in Thailand amid continuing tensions

Voters in Thailand have been to the polls in largely peaceful elections. The vote came a day after violent clashes between supporters and opponents of the embattled prime minister.

The government deployed heavy security at polling stations in Thailand during the country's general election on Sunday. Officials said voting proceeded relatively peacefully in most areas, although protesters trying to prevent the election forced a number of voting booths to close

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called the election in December in an attempt to quell protests calling for her to step down.

The main opposition Democratic Party boycotted the election.

Polling stations blocked

The Election Commission said on Sunday anti-government protesters forced the closure more than 10 percent of constituency voting stations. The extent of the disruptions was unclear, but local media reports indicate multiple polling locations were canceled in Bangkok and in at least five southern provinces.

Yingluck and her Puea Thai Party, who claimed a landslide victory in the 2011 election, is expected to win again on Sunday.

The recent unrest in Thailand has pitted supporters of the deeply divisive Shinawatra against those who say she is influenced by her billionaire brother Thaksin, the former prime minister who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

At least 10 people have been killed and nearly 600 wounded since protests began late last year. On Saturday, seven people were injured in gun battles during a standoff in the capital between supporters and opponents of Yingluck.

Election goes ahead

Protesters also hampered the election's advanced voting process. Around one in five voters were unable to cast their ballots. Nonetheless, Yingluck last week refused to postpone the poll.

The Election Commission argued the election should have been postponed. It said protesters prevented candidates in 28 of the constituencies from registering and the lower house will thus not reach its quorum of 95 percent of the 500 seats needed to make a new parliament.

Some 49 million people were eligible to participate in Thailand's latest election. Final results will not be immediately announced. Another day of voting had already been planned for February 23 due to the disruptions during advanced voting.

tj,dr/mr (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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