Today's Top Stories - Tuesday December 18, 2007
Early voting begins
Voters across the country went to the polls on Saturday for the first of two days of advance voting, and the Election Commission indicated that the polls were peaceful - and busy.
Election Commissioner Sodsri Sattayatham said the EC had prepared enough personnel and equipment to handle the more than two million people who had applied to cast advance votes on Saturday and Sunday, both within and outside their constituencies.
In case ballots for advance voting are insufficient, ballots for December 23 will be used, said Mrs. Sodsri.
Police and army officials will provide extra security in the three southern provinces affected by ongoing violence - Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat - during the advance voting as well as on election day.
In Bangkok, 903,899 eligible voters had registered to exercise their right to cast advance ballots as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has ordered all of its 50 district offices to prepare enough space and facilities for the voters.
It is predicted that 20 per cent of total eligible voters in the Thai capital would cast advance ballots.
The number of voters applying for casting advance ballots for the upcoming election is higher than the previous election, causing Samak Sundaravej, leader of the People Power Party to ask the EC to monitor the situation closely as he believed many voters could be hired by political parties to vote for them.
Meanwhile, interim Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont urged as many as eligible voters to exercise election rights.
Gen. Surayud, also interior minister, said he wanted to see the outcome of the election genuinely decided by the people as it could dictate the future of the country.
Questions could be raised if not too many voters exercise their election rights, said Gen. Surayud.
Sales or serving of alcoholic drinks was prohibited throughout Thailand starting from 6pm (1100 GMT) today until midnight (1700 GMT) Sunday as eligible voters cast advance ballots .
Under the election law, violators face a maximum fine of 10,000 baht or six years imprisonment.
The same restriction will also be applied from 6pm local time on December 22 to midnight the next day election day.
At stake for the upcoming poll are 480 seats in the House of Representatives (Lower House). (TNA)