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Boycott Forces More Voting in Thailand


BANGKOK - Thailand's election voting results won't be known for at least a month, but they're unlikely to bring a quick end to the nation's political crisis.

Anti-government protesters blocked voters from casting their ballots in many areas of Bangkok and southern Thailand. Other polling places were closed because no poll workers showed up to open them.

Despite those setbacks, voting proceeded peacefully in 89 percent of nationwide polling stations over the weekend.

Tens of thousands of Thais joined the election boycott. They preferred to participate in a national picnic day, sharing food and celebrating democracry.

Bangkok voter turnout declined 25 percent compared to the last election. Only one out of seven registered voters in one district turned out to vote.

One Christian explained she didn't vote because she believes the election is unfair.

"Half of the people are not heard," she said.

Deep political divisions have also affected the Thai church. Christians here are faithfully praying for a peaceful end to the political crisis.

Meanwhile, voting disruptions have caused the government to schedule another day of voting for Feb. 23.

The election may even be nullified due to present corruption charges against Prime Minister Yingluck's government.

"Yingluck will not be able to open the Parliament because the law requires 95 percent MP's (Members of Parliament) should be in there. So, she has to keep doing the election for certain places where the ballots have not been completed yet," Dr. Surat Horachaikul, professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University, said.

Whatever the election outcome, many believe the political unrest and stalemate here will continue.

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