A Thai general election Sunday ended with no major violence as anti-government protesters blocked voting in dozens of constituencies, renewing fears of protracted political limbo.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is widely expected to extend her billionaire family's decade-long winning streak at the ballot box despite weeks of mass street demonstrations aimed at forcing her from office.
But widespread disruption to voting meant that the results are not expected for weeks at least. And few believe the polls will end the political turmoil that has plagued the kingdom since her elder brother Thaksin was ousted as premier in a military coup in 2006.
The opposition is also expected to ask the courts to annul the outcome based on legal technicalities.
Tensions were running high Sunday after a dramatic gun battle between rival protesters on the streets of the capital on the eve of the election left at least seven people wounded.
But there were no reports of serious violence on election day by the time polls closed at 3 pm local time (0800 GMT). Polling was cancelled in some areas of Bangkok and the southern region as anti-government protestors formed blockades in many areas especially in Bangkok’s Din Deang district. Pro-election supporters on the other hand fueled tension when they insisted on exercising their right to vote, storming through the blockades.
At the close of polls, the Elections Commission announced that 511 polling stations within 13 districts in Bangkok could not open or were forced to close early because of blockades. Another 74 and 27 stations were also closed respectively in Phetchaburi and Rayong provinces. However, all stations were able to open in the northern and northeastern region of the country.
The demonstrators want Yingluck to step down and make way for an unelected "people's council" to oversee reforms to tackle corruption and alleged vote-buying.
Authorities said roughly 130,000 police were deployed around the country for the vote, but with tens of thousands of polling stations many had only a light security presence.
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