Thailand protesters block poll registration stadium: Anti-government demonstrators surrounded the stadium Monday morning where candidates were due to register to stand in February’s election.
Only nine of the 34 political parties who arrived to register on opening day braved the throngs of protesters to apply inside, according to reports.
The rest simply complained to the police, accusing the People’s Democratic Reform Committee protesters of blocking their entrance to the registration centre.
When some parties began registering their candidates at a nearby police station, some protesters moved there and surrounded it too.
The Election Commission said it would consider changing the venue if the protesters continued to obstruct parties from registering.
Some of the protesters had camped outside the stadium since Sunday night, and had blocked all entrances to the stadium.
Election officials had also locked the doors, concerned that protesters would invade the stadium, according to a Bangkok Post report.
Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban had urged protesters on Sunday to gather outside the Thai-Japanese stadium in Bangkok where the registrations were set to take place, saying “If you want to apply for candidacy, you must walk past our feet first”.
The main opposition Democrat Party has said it will boycott the February election.
Both the protesters and the Democrat Party insist political reform is needed before an election.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who dissolved the House of Representatives and called the February snap election in an effort to end the rallies, urged the protesters to respect the “democratic system”.
She told reporters the elections must take place, and urged the protesters to express their views by voting in the election.
Ms. Yingluck said: “If we don’t hold on to the democratic system, what should we hold on to?”
“If you don’t accept this government, please accept the system,” she added.
The Pheu Thai Party on Monday officially confirmed, as expected, Ms. Yingluck as its candidate for prime minister if it wins the February election.
Ms. Yingluck has been campaigning for two weeks, but has stayed clear of Bangkok, where anti-government protests have continued since early November.
She has been campaigning for the election in the North and Northeast of the country where her party’s popularity is strong.
Her tour was scheduled to end Sunday, but she has continued campaigning upcountry, with no apparent plans to return to Bangkok any time soon.