|Thailand caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (R) casts her vote at a polling station near her residence in Bangkok, capital of Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014. By 10 a.m. local time Sunday, voting had been proceeding at 333 constituencies in 68 Thai provinces, while 42 constituencies in nine provinces had canceled polling, the Election Commission said. (Xinhua/Gao Jianjun)
BANGKOK, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Thai citizens cast their votes in Sunday's general election, though polling in a few constituencies of the capital city and in most southern provinces was called off due to unrest caused by anti-government protesters.
Voters went to the polls from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. in 333 out of a total of 375 constituencies throughout the country, with polling in 42 constituencies called off by election officials after protesters besieged district offices to keep voting ballots and ballot boxes from being transported to polling stations.
The polling in 68 out of a total of 76 provinces plus the capital city proceeded, though brawls and hassles briefly occurred at several polling stations, officials said.
Police and soldiers have guarded the perimeters of the polling stations where unrest had been anticipated.
The voting in nine out of a total of 14 southern constituencies, known as a solid base of support for the Democrat Party which has boycotted the race to parliament, was called off as protesters blocked up ballots delivery at district offices, election officials said.
Similar incident happened to a few constituencies of the capital where the protesters, directed by former Deputy Premier Suthep Thaugsuban and several ex-MPs of the Democrat Party, had managed to keep the ballots from reaching the polling stations, they said.
Nevertheless, the Election Commission will manage to hold by- elections in those constituencies where polling was denied on Sunday by protesters within a six-month time in accordance with the electoral law.
"Those who may have been barred from voting today (Sunday) are suggested to notify the registrars at the local district offices to maintain the right to vote at a later date," said Election Commission Secretary General Puchong Nutravong.
Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra went to the polls at a public school near her home in Ladprao area where she was cheered up by local people and given tight security by police and soldiers.
"Don't give up, prime minister...keep fighting for the sake of democratic rule," shouted an elderly woman with an ID card in her hand to the grim-looking Yingluck.
She then left for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense in Muangtong area, less than 10 km from Chaeng Wattana intersection where a horde of protesters have gathered since the last few weeks, to monitor developments across the country.
Gunfire and blasts occurred at the intersection and nearby spots on Saturday, with one person seriously injured and nine others slightly injured, following a provocative stand-off between the anti-government protesters and a group of pro-government Red Shirt demonstrators, police said.
The Pheu Thai (for Thais) Party, core of the caretaker government, is tipped to win most MP seats in both party-list and constituency-based electoral modes nationwide. The Chart Thai Pattana (developed Thailand) Party and Chart Pattana (developed country) Party and Bhum Jai Thai (proud Thais) Party are expected to win a dozen MP seats in the constituency-based mode each and several in the party-list mode each.
However, no post-election parliament will open anytime soon after Sunday's polls due to an inadequate number of elected MP seats, which is legally required to amount to a minimum of 95 percent, or 475, of a total of 500 MP seats.
Only 472 constituencies out of the 500 seats were contested nationwide while 28 others, all in the southern region, saw no competition since protesters had managed to bar electoral candidates from applying in December.
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