Voting ends in Thailand amid continuing tensions

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An anti-government supporter wearing a cap with a
Polls have closed in Thailand\’s tense national elections in which anti-government protesters forced the closure of hundreds of polling stations in the capital, Bangkok.
The main opposition Democrat Party boycotted the elections, and protesters obstructed voting by blocking the distribution of ballots and preventing voters from entering polling stations.
Officials say voting proceeded relatively unobstructed in other parts of the country.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra\’s Pheu Thai Party is expected to easily win, but the opposition is likely to continue street protests.
Protests and violence erupted three months ago when the prime minister\’s ruling party sought to grant amnesty to her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, remains very influential in Thailand, even though he was convicted of corruption and lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai.
Bangkok\’s urban middle class and royalist elite are opposed to the amnesty and have responded to its proposal with calls to oust the government.
The election commission had called for the vote to be delayed, citing fears of violence that has killed at least 10 people since November.
The Thai army increased its presence in the capital to prevent further unrest during the elections and a state of emergency has already been declared.
The military, which has staged 18 coups in the past 81 years, has said it will not interfere in the political situation unless absolutely necessary.
Source: VOA and agencies

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