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Protests

Thai protesters seek to block election registrations

Thai protesters have tried to stop political parties from entering planned polls, surrounding a registration center. The blockade appeared unsuccessful, with numerous parties now listed for the ballot.

Thailand's opposition keeps up pressure

Hundreds of opposition protesters gathered outside a stadium in the Thai capital in an effort to prevent political representatives from registering for the February 2 elections.

At least 150,000 people were said to have joined the protests against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose resignation they are demanding. Members of the main opposition Democrat Party, which has failed to win a parliamentary majority for the past two decades, have said they will boycott the elections.

Despite the protests, nine parties did manage to enter the stadium site on Monday to begin the registration process. They included Yingluck's Pheu Thai party, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported online.

The paper quoted Election Commission deputy secretary general Somsak Suriyamongkol as saying that a further 26 parties had been barred from the site. Having filed complaints from a nearby police station, the parties were effectively considered as having registered, the commission said.

According to Somsak, Yingluck was at the top of Pheu Thai's candidate list, making her the party's choice for prime minister, should it win the election.

That news is unlikely to please demonstrators, who have called for Yingluck to step down. They claim she is no more than a puppet for her brother, deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a 2006 coup. Protesters claim the poll would be flawed and would only serve to deliver another "Thaksin regime."

The demonstrators have called for an unelected "people's council" to be established to ensure reforms are carried out ahead of any election. Although they have appealed for the military to intervene, as was the case in 2006, the army has so far refused to step in.

While Thaksin is well-liked among many rural and working class voters, particularly in the north and northeast, the country's political elite have condemned him as corrupt and a threat to the present status quo.

rc/msh (AFP, dpa)

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