WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The United States was "deeply troubled" by efforts in Thailand to disrupt early voting, the state department said Sunday, calling on all sides to refrain from violence.
"The United States is deeply troubled by efforts to block polls and otherwise prevent voting in Thailand, and by the most recent acts of political violence," State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said in a statement.
Out of 50 polling stations in Bangkok, Thailand's capital, only seven remained open as of 11 a.m. local time, while in 15 southern provinces, most people were unable to cast a vote due to anti-government protesters' efforts to block and disrupt.
Suthin Tharathin, a core leader of anti-government protests, was shot dead on Sunday in Bangkok.
"While we do not take sides in the political dispute and strongly support freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest, preventing citizens from voting violates their universal rights and is inconsistent with democratic values," Psaki said.
"We reiterate our call for all sides to refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and commit to sincere dialogue to resolve political differences peacefully and democratically," she added.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could delay the election she has called for Feb. 2, as a Constitutional Court ruled on Friday in favor of a delay.
The government declared a 60-day state of emergency, effective from Wednesday, as part of its efforts to curb ongoing protests that started in October following the passage of a government-backed amnesty bill that could have led to the return of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister and Yingluck's brother.