Thai protesters surround polling stations as advance voting begins
BANGKOK (AFP) - Thai anti-government protesters surrounded polling stations on Sunday as advance voting for controversial elections got under way, authorities said, raising uncertainty over whether the ballot will ultimately be held.
Over two million people are registered for the advance vote ahead of the Feb 2 election, which was called by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in an attempt to defuse rising political tensions after weeks of mass anti-government protests.
Demonstrators, who have staged a near two-week so-called "shutdown" of Bangkok in an effort to derail the vote, have rejected the election and vowed to congregate around polling stations.
Advance voting is being held for those who are unable to take part in the Feb 2 election and is routine, although this time it is being seen as a litmus test for the possibility of holding the vote next Sunday without violence.