Sunday, 26 June 2011

Heavy police presence for advance voting by 2.6 million today

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A total of 35,000 policemen will be deployed at 557 poll stations nationwide for advance voting today, national police adviser Pol General Pongsapat Pongcharoen said yesterday

More than 2.6 million people have registered for advance voting at 154 off-constituency polling stations and 403 on-constituency poll stations, according to Pongsapat, chief of the centre in charge of security in the run-up to the July 3 election.

Police will be at the polling stations to ensure law and order from 5am on.

He also said advance poll boxes would be tightly guarded so that it would not be possible to change a box or add ballots to benefit anyone.

Pongsapat also reported that a police team led by Pol Lt-General Assawin Kwanmuang had arrested one suspect in the attempt killing of Pheu Thai MP candidate for Samut Prakan Pracha Prasopdee. The investigation has been extended to link with the June 16 murder of Suban Jiraphanwanich, the chief of the Lop Buri Provincial Administrative Organisation. He said there would be good news about the progress of the probe soon.

National police chief General Wichean Potephosree, who presided over a video conference from Nakhon Ratchasima, urged police to be neutral in the election and to crack down on crime, influential figures, professional killers and war weapons before and after the elections.

After the meeting he told reporters that the next week was the last curve in the road before the election, so police were beefing up security and updating the situation on a daily basis. He said police and election officials must remain neutral and that three officers - one from the Metropolitan Police and one each from Regions 4 and 5 who failed to be neutral - faced disciplinary punishment.

While inspecting a polling station in front of the Nakhon Ratchasima City Hall, Wichien said he expected 100 per cent of the people registered for advance voting would turn up nationwide. He also commented that the red-shirt people's poll watch was a good idea to ensure the election would be transparent and just, and urged them to follow the law and not to violate others' rights.

Maj-General Akara Thiprote, deputy chief of the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4, said that about 20,000 people would cast ballots in advance at the three southernmost provinces and Songkhla's four districts. Some 11,000 officers would provide security for the polling today. As it was the day for people to exercise their right to vote, he said there should be no violent incidents, from politics or from the southern insurgency.

In related news, police presented a 32-year-old suspect linked to a recent political killing at a press conference yesterday evening, along with a pistol, 30 rounds of ammunition, Bt41,377 in cash, three cell phones and a Honda Wave motorcycle and a Chevrolet car as evidence.

Ekkachai Pompadet is accused of assisting the murder of Lop Buri official Suban Jiraphanwanich. They said Ekkachai used the motorcycle as a getaway vehicle for the hitman, whom police identified as Sirapong Artdech.

Ekkachai was arrested at a hotel in Nonthaburi on Friday evening, after police found he was among a "hit team" captured by security cameras. He is alleged to have confessed that the payment for killing Suban was over Bt1 million and the team got the job through Akkharawat Petchchandra. They were also involved in the shooting of Pracha Prasopdee. Ekkachai confessed to watching the area while the hitman shot Pracha. Police will take him to re-enact the Suban killing near Khao San Road this morning.

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