Protesters seize ballots in Thailand’s South


SONGKHLA, Feb 1 – Anti-government protesters in five southern provinces have continued blockading Hat Yai postal centre to prevent postal workers from delivering ballots to polling stations in nearby provinces.

Hat Yai postal centre is responsible for supplying ballots to the five southernmost provinces of Songkhla, Satun, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

Preecha Sukkasem, core leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) in Songkhla, officially declared the protesters’ insistence to seal off the postal centre, despite negotiations with Election Commission (EC) officials from Narathiwat.

He said PDRC supporters in five southern provinces were holding a peaceful demonstration, and not disrupting the elections.

He said the elections will pave the way for the present government to return to power and escalate conflicts in the country.

In Ranong province, over 100 PDRC supporters set up tents and a stage in front of Ranong police station to prevent police from moving ballot boxes from the storage room to be delivered to EC officials in five districts.

A similar incident was reported in Prachuab Kiri Khan where more than 1,000 protesters and rubber farmers blockaded Bang Saphan police station, where boxes and ballots for three constituencies were kept.

In Chumphon, the EC’s storeroom in Ban Nong Muk School was forced opened, and ballot boxes and election equipment were stolen and thrown into a canal in Thung Kha sub-district.

Police said the boxes and equipment were to be delivered to 720 polling stations in three districts.

In Nakhon Si Thammarat, PDRC supporters rallied in front of the 42nd Border Patrol Police Commander in Thung Song district after they were informed that border patrol policemen would be assigned to deliver ballots to four provinces: Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Pattalung and Krabi.

The Thung Song postal centre was also sealed off by protesters, resulting in traffic congestion in nearby areas.