Police blitz city to keep order during poll

Hundreds of provincial police were brought into the capital Saturday to maintain order and monitor poll fraud in Sunday's governor election.

This is a photo of the next governor of Bangkok - and a photo of the man he is going to beat at the polls on Sunday. City officials promise that both posters will be gone by Monday. (Bangkok Post photo)

The Election Commission also warned about the use of electronic media to campaign for votes while a 30-hour ban on political campaigning was in effect.

To help the Metropolitan Police Bureau maintain order Sunday, Police Region 1 and Police Region 2 Saturday dispatched almost 1,000 men to the city.

Chachoengsao, Sa Kaeo, Rayong and Chanthaburi Saturday each sent 150 officers.

Lt Col Prasarn Kaewmahasuriyawong, deputy superintendent for Police Region 2 Bureau, said the officers would be manning polling stations until the votes are counted.

Voting starts from 8am and ends at 3pm.

Initial results are expected at 7pm and an official result will be announced at 10pm if the tallying process runs smoothly.

"They will be working with Metropolitan Police Bureau officers to maintain law and order at the voting booths until the ballot boxes are handed over," Lt Col Prasarn said.

He said the Police Region 2 Bureau commander has ordered the officers to stay impartial and strictly maintain order.

EC member Sodsri Sattayatham said users of electronic media, especially social networking, should heed the ban on political campaigning.

The ban has been in effect from 6pm Saturday until midnight tonight. Alcohol sales are also banned during the period.

Mrs Sodsri said people could be charged with violating the election law for tweets or photo sharing if either are deemed to be trying to sway voters.

"The EC has a special task force to monitor the use of the media," she said.

Special Branch Police, meanwhile, dispatched 200 men to oversee voting, especially in 18 districts where competition is fierce.

Pol Maj Gen Attachai Duang-amporn, deputy commander, said seven out of 18 were singled out for close monitoring including two inner districts of Chatuchak and Bang Khen.

Pol Maj Gen Attachai said there were reports of possible vote-buying in these districts with payments likely to be made after the election.

Pol Maj Gen Attachai said the agency also sent out officers to monitor Sunday's election and step up security to ensure there were no incidents during voting.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut Saturday urged the EC to step up efforts to tackle poll fraud.

He said a series of irregularities had emerged including complaints that hundreds of police in the provinces were listed as eligible voters in the city election.

He said that national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew should also step in to investigate to ensure a clean and fair election.

Pol Lt Gen Thaweesak Tuchinda, chairman of the Bangkok election committee, Saturday dismissed concerns about "ghost voters" as a possible misunderstanding.

"As an ex-policeman, I think this might be a case of misunderstanding. These police may be Bangkok residents and did not have their names transferred to the provinces where they've been assigned. The paperwork is quite complicated," he said.

Pol Lt Gen Thaweesak also allayed fears about the "howling night" _ a reference to alleged vote buying on the eve of the election. He said EC staff have been monitoring campaign activities and that it was unlikely candidates would risk being disqualified.

"That's not to mention that the [disqualified] candidate would pay for election costs, so there won't be a howling night," he said.

City clerk Ninnart Chalitanon said Saturday that preparations for the election were in good hands.

The city clerk Saturday inspected the preparations at Don Muang district office where election staff examined and accepted ballot papers.

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